Thousands of people in Paris and other French cities hit the streets on Saturday to protest the controversial state of emergency that one organization says is an indication of a “headlong rush into authoritarianism.”
The measure, imposed following the November attacks in Paris, is set to expire February 26. Debate in the bicameral parliament is forthcoming, as Agence France-Presse reports, with “Senate […] to vote on the proposal on February 9, followed by a vote in the National Assembly on February 16.”
At the action in Paris, police said 5,000 took part, while organizers said the turnout was 20,000. Dozens of similar protests also took place Saturday in other cities across the nation.
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Twitter users captured some of the actions:
Paris-based civil liberties group La Quadrature du Net earlier this week called on people to take part in one of the protests, and also urged people to call members of parliament to voice their concerns.
“To stop the government’s escalation of security measures, which destroys the bases of our institutions day after day and trivializes attacks on fundamental rights, it is urgent to clearly demonstrate our refusal of this obnoxious policy,” the organization said in a media statement.
“As everyone is affected, everyone has the power to show the government that its actions are misguided and that it would be far stronger if it questioned its choices and decided to fight France’s enemies with the weapons of law and civil liberties,” that statement adds.
“The permanent state of emergency must not be allowed to become the norm in France,” said Adrienne Charmet, the group’s campaigns coordinator, adding, “It violates numerous fundamental rights and undermines the foundations of democracy.”
“We count on French citizens to be wiser than their government and to massively mobilize in order to openly express, by emails or phone calls to their MPs and by going to the multiple demonstrations on 30 January, that these excessive security measures and headlong rush into authoritarianism are not what we want for France,” she said.
The protests come on the heels of the resignation of French justice minister Christiane Taubira over President François Hollande’s controversial anti-terror proposals. “Sometimes to resist means leaving,” she said.
The protests also come the same week as France’s top administrative court rejected an appeal brought by the Paris-based League of Human Rights that urged the body to suspend all or part of the state of emergency, and follows a joint statement by a group of United Nations human rights experts who warned that the measures “impose excessive and disproportionate restrictions on fundamental freedoms.”