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France rejects bullfight ban

France's Constitutional Council on Friday rejected a request by animal-rights activists to ban bullfighting in the southern areas where it is still authorised.

France rejects bullfight ban
Photo: Candie_N

The council said it was not against the spirit of the constitution to allow the practice in some regions despite it being banned in most of the country.

France holds dozens of bullfights every year, with more than 1,000 animals killed annually in bouts that supporters defend as a local tradition and an important generator of tourism.

The council said the provision allowing bullfighting in the south was "precise, objective and rational", adding that "these traditional practices thus authorised do not infringe upon constitutional rights."

The anti-bullfighting group CRAC and animal-rights organisation DDA had asked the council to impose a nationwide ban by closing the loophole allowing the tradition to continue in southern areas.

Polls have generally indicated that about two-thirds of the French electorate would like to see bullfighting banned entirely, although the latest one published on Thursday found 48% in favour of a ban, 42% for the status quo and 10% with no opinion.

The sport has many passionate defenders, including Interior Minister Manuel Valls who enraged bullfighting opponents earlier this month by insisting it is a tradition that should be saved.

"It's something I love, it's part of my family's culture," said the minister who was born in Spain and moved with his family to France when he was a child. "It's a culture that we have to preserve."

Defenders have also pointed to the economic benefits of a sport that they say attracts large numbers of tourists to southern France, especially to hugely popular ferias in cities like Nimes and Arles.

The Arles Easter Feria, for example, attracts 500,000 visitors over six days, each spending about €100 ($130) a day, according to Christian
Mourisard, the head of the city's tourist office.

Animal rights activists plan to continue their fight to have bullfighting banned, despite Friday's setback.

They are lobbying to have parliament enact a ban and are also considering a challenge to the practice through the European Court of Human Rights.

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France to ban e-scooters from pavements this September

France will ban electric scooters from pavements in September, the transport minister said, in a backlash against a surge of the commuter gizmos invading pedestrian areas.

France to ban e-scooters from pavements this September
A woman uses a Lime-S electric scooter in Paris on March 3. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard
An estimated 15,000 scooters operated by several companies have flooded the French capital since their introduction last year, a number projected to surge to 40,000 by the end of this year.
   
Elisabeth Borne told the Le Parisien daily in remarks published Saturday that anyone riding an e-scooter, monowheel, personal transporter or hoverboard on the pavement would be fined 135 euros ($151) from September.
   
Instead, they will have to use the street or dedicated cycling paths, “so pedestrians are no longer squeezed against walls”, the minister said. The development of the hugely popular personal transport vehicles “happened very fast and in a bit of an anarchic way”, she added.
 
Riders will still be allowed to push them on the pavement, so long as the engine is turned off.
   
Scooter rental services, from companies like US-based Lime and Bird — and most recently ride-hailing giant Uber — have proved wildly popular in many cities. The French move follows a decision by Peru to ban motorised scooters from pavements and pedestrian areas from this week.
   
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo had last month already announced measures to protect pedestrians from e-scooters, “especially older people and children”. She said parking in such a way as to obstruct traffic or pedestrians will 
mean a 35-euro fine — but the Paris city council has pledged to build parking spots for 2,500 scooters.
   
Berlin's city hall has also drawn up tough new rules for e-scooters, while Spanish tourist hotspot Barcelona has banned scooter rental services completely.
   
More than 1,500 people have been treated for injuries from using battery-powered electric scooters in the United States since the craze began in late 2017, a Consumer Reports survey showed in February.
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