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Doom and gloom: Millions rally for regime change in Macron's France

A defaced portrait of French president Emmanuel Macron is displayed on the road amid protests near Blaye, France, on March 21, 2023. (AFP)

By Syed Zafar Mehdi

Days after hosting CIA-bankrolled anti-Iran rabble-rousers in Paris last November, French President Emmanuel Macron quite animatedly labeled violent riots in Iran as a whimsical “revolution”. 

"Diplomacy is talking with people you disagree with and trying to do something useful,” he said at the time, not knowing or not wanting to know that the real revolution was brewing at home.

For the past three months, anti-government protests have gripped France over Macron’s controversial move to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, reminding many of the yellow vest movement, an unprecedented phenomenon in the history of global socio-economic movements.

In recent days, protests in France have gathered momentum, with millions of people taking to the streets across the country, demanding the ouster of Macron’s unpopular government.

According to CGT trade unions, nearly 3.5 million people stormed the streets in a nationwide general strike on Thursday with public anger showing no signs of abating. Although the embattled president narrowly survived the no-confidence vote on Monday, his political fate is virtually sealed.

In other words, angry demonstrators are not merely seeking the rollback of the so-called “pension reform plan” but are vociferously calling for regime change in France and the banishment of Macron.

On Friday, Britain’s King Charles III was also forced to cancel his state visit to France as violence erupted in many cities in response to the call for nationwide strikes given by trade unions. 

Schools, businesses, transport, oil refineries, and energy plants have been severely affected by the unrest, especially after Macron overruled legislators to push the move without parliament’s vote.

On Thursday, as reported in local media, angry protesters chanted “Macron out” as they marched in Paris and gathered at Place de la Bastille — the site where the French revolution started.

In the French capital, videos circulating on social media showed police lobbing tear gas canisters at protesters, forcing the closure of supermarkets and fast-food restaurants.  

More than 500 protesters have been arrested this week alone, most of them in Paris, much more than arrests in previous rounds of protests in January and February, according to French media.

The raging protests and the brutal police crackdown show the embattled French president has not learned his lessons from the massive yellow vest movement during his first term in 2018-19.

In an interview last week, Macron spoke about “legitimate” protests, differentiating them from “violent protests”, while warning of a January 6 Capitol-style riot in the country. 

Not too long ago, he was hell-bent on giving legitimacy to violent West-backed rioters in Iran and describing their acts of violence and vandalism as “revolution”. 

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, during his tour of police headquarters Thursday, dubbed the protesters as “troublemakers” who he alleged “want to take down the state and kill the police”. 

In Iran, however, rioters and terrorists who went on the rampage across the country recently, killing policemen and Basiji volunteers in cold blood were hailed as “freedom fighters” by French officials.

In a statement on Friday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kana’ani politely reminded the French authorities of their responsibility to talk to the protesters and listen to their grievances, instead of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries.

Remarkably, while mainstream Western media went berserk during the Iran riots and brazenly pushed the “regime change” narrative through distortion of facts, it has made Macron look like a victim while putting peaceful French protesters in the dock for demanding social justice.

According to polls, two-thirds of the French population has rejected Macron’s plan, while millions are already out in the streets since mid-January, which means the writing is on the wall.

France today is not teetering on the brink of civil unrest. It already is facing a civil war. Macron’s unpopular government is doomed and the embattled president himself is writing its obituary.

It is time for “regime change” in France. And this change doesn’t require any outside intervention. The people of France are mature enough to see the back of Macron.

Syed Zafar Mehdi is a Tehran-based journalist, political commentator and author. He has reported for more than 13 years from India, Afghanistan, Kashmir and West Asia for leading publications worldwide.

(The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

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