Iran slams French govt. approach
Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission spokesman Kazem Jalali
A senior Iranian lawmaker has slammed the approach of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's government in treating protesters, saying it was not befitting the dignity of French people.
Protests erupted in France following the proposal of a legislation that will raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and increase the full state pension age from 65 to 67.
"If protests had occurred in another country, it would have been interpreted as democracy," Iranian Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission spokesman Kazem Jalali told Fars news agency, referring to Sarkozy's remarks that had called demonstrations "undemocratic."
"He [Sarkozy] thinks if people support him [then] the society is democratic, and if people start criticizing him, then the society is undemocratic," he went on to say.
In response to the national unrest, Sarkozy had said, "In a democracy, everyone can express themselves but you have to do so without violence or excesses.”
"Despite his claims, Sarkozy has not been able to successfully resolve the domestic problems of the French people," Jalali said, adding that the French president has been trying to take advantage of international issues instead.
France's General Confederation of Labor Union (CGT) says at least 3.5 million people participated in the national strikes on Tuesday, while government and police figures put the numbers at half a million, Reuters reported.
Since the start of the week, French police have arrested close to 1,200 demonstrators.
Nationwide fuel shortages have shut down schools and oil refineries and virtually paralyzed traffic. Nearly 4,000 of 13,000 fuel stations countrywide are still awaiting supplies.
The nation's busiest airport, Charles de Gaulle, was forced to cancel 30 percent of its flights while Paris Orly canceled 50 percent. Airport employees were told they must walk to work and many travelers have had to transport their own luggage.
France has "less than 100 days of oil stocks" and "the government is already drawing the 30-day emergency reserves", The Daily Mail reported.
The unrest has triggered fears that France could face a large-scale revolt against the government, similar to the events in May 1968 when millions of student protesters threatened to restart the French Revolution and overthrow President Charles DeGaulle.