Defiant “yellow vest” demonstrators took to the streets of Paris and other French citie, but the anti-government protests appeared to be losing steam after major concessions by President Emmanuel Macron and another deadly terror attack on French soil.
More than 66,000 took part in demos across the country, half the number of a week ago, and in Paris 2,200 people participated, far fewer than the 10,000 who turned out last Saturday, according to interior ministry figures.
The protesters held a moment’s silence at the Place de l’Opéra for those who have been killed since the movement began.
The five women, who were wearing red hooded tops bearing the revolutionary symbol of Hercules, approached the line of police slowly in a V-formation and then stood silently in front of them, their faces absolutely still, for half an hour.
The women are not members of the activist group Femen, known for its bare-breasted protests, but were instead organised by the Luxembourg performance artist Deborah de Rebortis.
They began by first walking towards the line of riot police.
They then stood just a metre from the riot shields, as journalists massed around them.
President Emmanuel Macron, facing the biggest crisis of his presidency, announced a series of concessions on Monday to defuse the explosive “yellow vest” crisis, which swelled up from rural and small-town France last month.
The package of tax and minimum wage measures for low-income workers, coupled with bitter winter weather this weekend, appeared to have helped bring calm to the country after more than a month of clashes and disruption.
‘Movement won’t end’
Some senior figures in the “yellow vest” movement — which has no official leaders and dozens of separate demands — had urged protesters to continue to press home their advantage.
“It’s really the time to keep going,” one of them, Eric Drouet, said in a video posted on Facebook. “What Macron did on Monday, was a call to carry on because he has started to give ground, which is unusual for him.”
“It’s a bit of a failure because the state is stopping us from being able to demonstrate properly,” Marie, a 35-year-old domestic helper and protester, told AFP of the declining numbers in Paris.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron Macron’s approval rating has also fallen: dropping to 23 percent according to a poll published by Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday, down two points from November. It marks a sharp decline from his 62 percent.