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‘Take down Macron’: Eight people go on trial in France for stealing portraits of president

Eight protesters go on trial in Paris on Wednesday for stealing official portraits of French President Emmanuel Macron from public buildings as part of a protest over climate change.

'Take down Macron': Eight people go on trial in France for stealing portraits of president
Activists marched with the Macron portraits at the G7 summit in France. Photo: AFP

The activists, aged 23 to 36, have been charged with theft after taking down the pictures from local government offices around the capital in February.

The acts of civil disobedience were part of a movement called “Take Down Macron” which was intended to highlight alleged inaction by the French government over global warming.

The group behind it, Non-Violent Action COP21 (ANV-COP21), claims that 128 portraits have been stolen across France, while 57 people face “group theft” charges which carry a maximum five-year jail term.


A protest in Bayonne showed people marching with the president's portrait held upside down. Photo: AFP

Several hundred protesters held up the portraits during a protest in southwestern France at the end of August near Biarritz where Macron was hosting a G7 summit of world leaders.

“Solidarity with the people who took down the portraits of our presidential monarch,” left-wing leader Jean-Luc Melenchon wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

The head of campaign group Oxfam in France, Cecile Duflot, also backed the protesters, writing: “It's a symbolic action and not a group theft.”

All public schools and government offices display the president's portrait, with Macron's showing him perched on the edge of his desk with two mobile phones and the memoirs of French resistance hero and post-war president Charles de Gaulle behind him.

It is not the first time the picture of the 41-year-old leader has been targeted.

In October 2017, mayors in the central Creuse region turned his picture round so that Macron faced the wall in protest at cuts to local government budgets and job losses.

The first trial over the thefts of presidential portraits took place at the end of May in the eastern town of Bourg-en-Bresse.

An environmental campaigner was  fined €250 and five others received suspended fines.

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WILDFIRES

More evacuated as forest fire reignites in southern France

A forest fire in France's southern Aveyron region has reignited, sparking the evacuation of 1,000 more people and burning a total of 1,260 hectares, local authorities said Sunday.

More evacuated as forest fire reignites in southern France

France has been buffeted this summer by a historic drought as well as a series of heatwaves and several forest fires, notably in the southwest.

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: French drought intensifies as River Loire dries up

The Aveyron fire, which has been raging since Monday, appeared to be under control and dying out on Saturday afternoon when it suddenly reignited in a “virulent” manner, gobbling up 500 more hectares (1,235 acres), the prefecture said.

At least 1,000 people were evacuated from the village of Mostuejols near the city of Millau and six nearby hamlets, it said.

Some 3,000 people had been evacuated because of the fire, but were allowed back when it appeared under control. No casualties have been reported so far from the blaze.

A local man was under investigation for accidentally starting the fire when a metal part of his trailer touched the road, sending off sparks that ignited the dried vegetation.

In eastern France, police said on Saturday they were banning entry to most forests in the Bas-Rhin region near the German border, in order to limit the risk of fires igniting.

Austrian firefighters help to extinguish a fire in a forest of South Gironde

Austrian firefighters help to extinguish a fire in a forest in South Gironde, near Belin-Beliet on August 13, 2022. (Photo by Thibaud MORITZ / AFP)

In the southwestern Gironde region around Bordeaux, another fire which flared on Tuesday was under control after rain fell overnight, a senior official said.

READ ALSO: Thunderstorms expected around contained French wildfire

The situation “considerably improved during the night,” Arnaud Mendousse, of Gironde fire and rescue, said.

He said there had been between 10 and 30 mm of rain in the region but on “terrain that is extremely dry”.

“We know that this offers a respite but does not signify an end to the fight. We know that if it does not rain in the next 48 to 72 hours, the risk will increase considerably.”

Mendousse said the humidity level has gone up and the temperature was relatively low at around 25 degrees Celsius, (77 Fahrenheit) adding: “The fire is not completely out and the soil remains extremely hot”.

EU members including Germany, Poland, Austria and Romania have pledged reinforcements totalling 361 firefighters to join the roughly 1,100 French ones on the ground, along with several water-bombing planes from the European Union fleet.

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