(AP) French president booed at WWI ceremony
France’s unpopular president ignored jeers by protesters as he laid flowers at the tomb of the unknown soldier during a ceremony marking the end of World War I.
Francois Hollande paraded up the Champs Elysees avenue to the Arc de Triomphe monument under sunny skies Monday to outbursts of loud booing from small pockets of the crowd lining his route.
Shouts of “Hollande resign!” rang out and some demonstrators wore the red caps that have come to symbolize an anti-tax movement that has caused violent protests in Brittany in recent weeks. Several dozen protesters were held for questioning by police for infractions including unauthorized demonstration and violence toward the police.
The unusual protest during what was intended as an annual ceremony honoring soldiers who have died in battle made for an inauspicious start to France’s year-long commemoration of next year’s 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.
Hollande’s popularity has sunk to record lows amid growing dissatisfaction over weak economic growth, high taxes and rising joblessness.
In a separate incident elsewhere in France, police say a mentally disturbed man stabbed three officials taking part in an Armistice Day ceremony in Chateaurenard in southern France, including a member of Parliament who is also the mayor of the town.
In a statement the head of France’s parliament Claude Bartolone condemned the “unheard-of” violence and said everything would be done to shed light on the attack and the attacker, who was immediately apprehended by police.