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Sunday, April 2, 2023

May 1 demonstrations in Paris and Istanbul get out of hand


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For the first time since the corona pandemic, major events, demonstrations and protests took place in many countries. In some cities, this got out of hands, such as in Paris and Istanbul. There, riots broke out and protesters clashed with the police.

Most arrests were reported in Istanbul. Thousands of people gathered there, among other things to demonstrate against the high inflation, which is much more extreme there than, for example, in the Netherlands. According to local authorities, 164 people have been arrested for demonstrating without a permit. For example, in Taksim Square, it was forbidden to take action. When demonstrators did go there, it led to violent clashes with the police.

People across France also took to the streets yesterday, in particular, to protest against the policy of the newly re-elected President Macron, who wants to raise the retirement age. That got out of hand in Paris. For example, companies were looted, including a branch of McDonald’s, and the fire service was hindered in putting out lit fires. The police then fired tear gas. Eight officers were injured and at least 45 people were arrested.

Yesterday, the Netherlands also commemorated Labor Day. In Utrecht there was a protest march with about four thousand people, followed by an event in the Julianapark, organized by the trade union FNV. In particular, attention was drawn to the “socio-economic imbalance in the Netherlands” and the failure of wages to keep pace with current inflation.

In almost all of Europe (and in many countries beyond) May 1 is an official public holiday, but not in the Netherlands. According to historians, this is for two reasons. Firstly, because Queen’s Day (30 April) always fell just before it. In addition, in our country, mainly religious holidays are celebrated with a day off,

A second reason is that at some point there would have been too little need and sense to celebrate 1 May extensively. There would be less need for the struggle from the labour movement for a better socio-economic position, from which the day arose because enough would have been achieved already, historian Sjaak van der Velden told the AD. The Cold War also played a role. “In Russia, on May 1, there was a military parade with tanks and guns. You didn’t want to be associated with those images.”

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