Around 30 cars were set on fire on Saturday night in Clermont Ferrand after tension over the arrest of a man on New Year's Eve continued to have repercussions around the city.

"/> Around 30 cars were set on fire on Saturday night in Clermont Ferrand after tension over the arrest of a man on New Year's Eve continued to have repercussions around the city.

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CLERMONT-FERRAND

250 riot police on alert in Clermont-Ferrand

Around 30 cars were set on fire on Saturday night in Clermont Ferrand after tension over the arrest of a man on New Year's Eve continued to have repercussions around the city.

250 riot police on alert in Clermont-Ferrand
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250 riot police, known as the CRS, were on duty on Sunday night in the south-east city to prevent further trouble. 

Problems started after police arrested a man on New Year’s Eve who was reported to have attacked them. 

After a chase the 30-year-old man was allegedly thrown to the ground and handcuffed. He fell into a coma after suffering a heart attack while being taken to a police station.

Angry youths have staged repeated protests about the attack since then, culminating in cars being burnt on Friday and Saturday night.

Newspaper France Soir reported that the local police chief was determined to keep calm in the city.

Francis Lamy said he would “not allow any no-go areas in Clermont-Ferrand.”

Police have been dealing with groups of young people moving quickly around certain districts of the city.

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RIOT

Yellow vests: France set to bring in controversial anti-rioting bill

French MPs have started debating a controversial anti-rioting bill which aims to crack down on the sort of street violence that has marred "yellow vest" anti-government protests since November.

Yellow vests: France set to bring in controversial anti-rioting bill
Photo: AFP
The bill notably aims to ban individuals identified as habitual hooligans from taking part in demonstrations, and force protesters involved in acts of violence to pay for the damage.
   
Some MPs also want more severe penalties for organisers of unauthorised demonstrations as well as people who cover their faces during violent protests.
   
But the bill has drawn fire — even within President Emmanuel Macron's own centrist party — from critics who say the proposals represent a threat to civil liberties.
   
Announcing the draft law earlier this month, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said some of the anti-Macron “yellow vest” protests had led to unacceptable violence.
   
“In many towns in France, demonstrations have been peaceful — but we cannot accept some people taking advantage of these demonstrations to cross the line, break things and set things on fire.”
 
READ ALSO:
Photo: AFP
 
Freedom to protest
 
The protests began in November against rising fuel taxes, but quickly spiralled into a wider revolt over accusations that Macron, a former banker, is out of touch with ordinary people in small-town and rural France.
 
Across France tens of thousands have joined protests and road blocks, although the numbers have eased in recent weeks after Macron announced a series of policy climbdowns and a public consultation so people could vent their anger.
   
In several cities — but especially Paris — the weekend protests have repeatedly descended into violence. 
   
Rioters in the capital torched cars and looted shops in early December, and also ransacked the Arc de Triomphe monument.
 
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner insisted the bill, backed by police unions, was not “an anti-yellow vest law” or “anti demonstration” law. 
 
Photo: AFP
   
“It's a law to protect demonstrators, shopkeepers, local residents and police,” he told BFM television.
   
Yael Braun-Pivet, the LREM head of the national assembly's cross-party laws commission, said protecting the right to demonstrate would be front and centre in the debate.
 
“What guarantees are being put around this procedure?” she demanded, telling the Journal du Dimanche newspaper earlier this month that she was “reticent” over certain measures.
   
Leftist critics have decried the bill as “liberticide” and have been little reassured by Castaner's suggestion that a protest ban would concern fewer than 300 people.
   
Already revised by Braun-Pivet's commission, more than 200 amendments have been proposed to the bill, with a final vote due next Tuesday.
   
The draft law could also see protesters who mask their faces fined up to 15,000 euros ($17,000) and handed a one-year prison term.
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