Macron leads quiet Victory in Europe Day ceremony in Paris, faces protests in Lyon

Macron leads quiet Victory in Europe Day ceremony in Paris, faces protests in Lyon |

Following a quiet Victory in Europe Day ceremony at the Champs Elysées in Paris that lacked the usual crowd, French President Emmanuel Macron faced protests in Lyon as he paid tribute to resistance fighter Jean Moulin on Monday.

Macron led the traditional ceremony on Paris’ Champs Elysées and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe to commemorate the end of World War II.

“Let us never forget”. It was with these words that the French commemorated the 78th anniversary of the surrender of Nazis to the Allied forces on 8 May 1945.

In Paris, however, the streets Macron paraded in were empty as police banned gatherings around the ceremony area to ensure no disruptions related to Macron’s hotly contested pension reform law.

Later in the day, Macron went to Lyon, a city of resistance fighters, to pay tribute to the most famous of all: Jean Moulin.

Macron visited the prison where Moulin was incarcerated and tortured by the Nazis, and most famously, Klaus Barbie, who years later faced trial in France and was put up in the same prison for crimes against humanity.

But wherever Macron goes, people continue to protest his widely opposed pension law.

Besides the hundred or so demonstrators gathered near the Montluc prison, 4,000 took to the streets of Lyon, according to the authorities. The town hall of Lyon’s third district was sabotaged.

“Jean Moulin will forgive us, and we too are in resistance”, a protestor told BFMTV.

But French Justice Minister Eric Dupont-Moretti was quick to criticise the protests, tweeting: “Jean Moulin, the children of Izieu and the millions of dead of the Second World War deserve silence and respect. Not indignity. There is a time for everything”.

Still, trade unionists and protestors questioned the government’s rhetoric, pointing to the city of Paris allowing a far-right march many viewed as “neo-fascist” on 6 May.

“When the ‘Macronie’ lets the heirs of Klaus Barbie march on Saturday and pays ‘homage’ to Jean Moulin on Monday,” noted a user on Twitter.

Due to the tense atmosphere and reportedly busy agenda, Macron cancelled his planned meeting with Green Lyon Mayor Grégory Doucet.

The ceremony in Lyon thus ended in the same atmosphere it had begun in Paris, where Macron paraded along the Champs Elysées without the usual crowd as police banned gatherings in the area, citing security concerns.

Victory in Europe Day was also celebrated among winners of World War II, though Russia will only do so Tuesday. Due to the time difference, the surrender was only effective in Moscow on 9 May 1945.

(Paul Messad |

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