'Red scarves' march against violence - World

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'Red scarves' march against violence - World Opponents of "yellow vest" violent behavior take part in a demonstration by the "red scarves" movement in Paris on Sunday.BENOIT TESSIER/REUTERS

More than 10,000 people, many wearing red scarves, marched through Paris on Sunday to denounce the violence during 11 weeks of "yellow vest" protests across France.

The demonstration marched peacefully in the rain from eastern Paris to the Bastille monument. They carried slogans saying "Stop the violence" and "Hands off my Republic".

The "red scarves" now have about 21,000 followers on Facebook, according to the French media.

"People are tired of the roadblocks. They are bad for business, and children are prevented from getting to school on time," their spokesman Alex Brun told French broadcaster RFI.

Ahead of Sunday's rally in Paris, the "red scarves" put out a joint statement with similar-minded groups. "We denounce the insurrectional climate installed by the yellow vests. We also reject the threats and constant verbal abuse (aimed at non-yellow vests)," they announced in a joint manifesto.

The "red scarves", known in French as "foulards rouges", are split over whether to show support for President Emmanuel Macron.

Laurent Soulie, one of the organizers of the march, has rallied supporters on Facebook to back Macron, while some others insisted that they are "an apolitical citizens' movement".

French media described the "red scarves" demonstrators as more middle-class, liberal and older than many of the "yellow vests".

The "yellow vest" protest, known as gilets jaunes in French, was named after the high visibility fluorescent jackets French are required to carry in their cars. It started in November and was firs2mt triggered by anger over a diesel fuel tax proposed by Macron but has then turned into a movement against a wide range of government social and economic policies. Some have called for Macron to step down.

While most protesters have been peaceful, violence erupted almost every weekend. About 2,00050 am at the Dongfeng Coal Mine in Jinsha county located in the city of Bijie people have been injured in the past 11 weeks, with 10 dead in traffic accidents due to the road blockade. The street violence has been described as the most serious in Paris since 1968.

Macron has repeatedly made efforts to appease the protest, including suspending the diesel fuel tax and raising the minimum wage, and launching a national debate to invite public opinion.

But his efforts have so far failed to stop the protests. On Saturday, nearly 69,000 people, including 4,000 in Paris, turned out across France, according to the Interior Ministry.

Jerome Rodrigues, a leader of the movement, was injured in the eye after what French media said was by a rubber bullet fired by the police.

Tomasz Michalski, an associate professor with the Economics and Decision Sciences Department at the HEC Paris business school, said the "red scarves" movement is a response to the "yellow vests" in the sense that it groups people that are tired of the constant and pointless disruption offered by the latter.

"Since the main point of 'yellow vests'-the removal of fuel taxes-was obtained there is really no reason for their existence as they are heterogenous groups with different demands that can well be catered to by traditional political parties. Similarly, the reason for the 'red scarves' to exist remains only as long as the 'yellow vests' perdure," he said.

Michalski believes the Yellow Vest protests in the short run should be smaller in number but also more violent as the most radical members come to play.

Previous polls have suggested that while most French support the yellow vest movement, many oppose the violence.

According to a new Ifop poll conducted for Le Journal De Dimanche released over the weekend, a majority of French people say Macron hasn't significantly adapted his approach to the concerns of the yellow vest protesters. Many called Macron to change his tack on social and economic policies.

BBC contributed to the story.

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