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Chickens mob gates of French parliament

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Chickens mob gates of French parliament
Chickens were involved in a flash protest outside the French parliament on Wednesday. But what was it all about? Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP
10:26 CET+01:00
We've all heard it said that politicians lack courage, but on Wednesday it was the turn of several dozen actual chickens to mob the gates of the French parliament in Paris. Find out what it was all about.

Anyone passing by the National Assembly in Paris on Wednesday afternoon would have been greeted by perhaps the strangest of many gatherings to have taken place there.

Instead of a crowd of protestors baying outside the gates of the French parliament – several dozen chickens clucked and flapped and generally caused chaos amid passing tourists and frantic police scurrying after them.

What was it all in aid of? Well, the unleashing of the chickens was, of all things, a protest by anti-gay marriage movement La Manif Pour Tous (the Demo for All).

The organization, bereft of its original leaders, who walked away in rancour and humiliation after France’s legalization of gay marriage in May, was responsible for the “poulets” protest around 3pm on Wednesday.

The organizers of the stunt pulled up outside the National Assembly and attempted to unleash 450 chickens from the back of an Avis rental van – even kicking some of the birds out, as seen in the video below from TF1 television.

As the van sped away, followed by police, around 40 chickens were left to flutter about outside the French parliament, dodging passing traffic and being chased by members of the gendarmerie.

At least two were killed by passing vehicles, and another two found dead at Bois de Boulogne on the outskirts of the city, according to Libération.

What does a bunch of confused chickens have to do with same-sex marriage? Well, without offering a proper explanation, it would appear the entire stunt was for the purpose of a pun.

“Ne plumez pas les familles,” said a tweet by the Manif, meaning “don’t pluck/rip off families,” a reference to government policies relating to taxation of families.

In another tweet Manif pour Tous ridiculed attempts by police to snare the fowl.

“The ‘chickens’ don’t know how to deal with the chicks,” said the tweet, using the slang term “poulets” for “cops” – considered derogatory and offensive by many police officers themselves.

Reaction to the stunt has been swift and angry. Animal rights activists at the Brigitte Bardot Foundation were sent to the scene to clean up after the protest, and to take the remaining animals – outside the assembly and at Bois de Boulogne – into their care.

“60 chickens abandoned by these morons from the Manif Pour Tous. Emergency services and police deployed, the Brigitte Bardot Foundation is on its way to gather the survivors,” the group tweeted.

Four anti-gay marriage activists were arrested at the scene, and a spokesman for the Brigitte Bardot Foundation told Libération the group would be pressing charges against them.

“It’s completely irresponsible to use animals in this manner,” said Christophe Marie.

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