PARIS — President Trump’s visit to Paris for the Armistice Day centennial commemorations wasn’t without its share of protests.
The first occurred Sunday morning, as the presidential motorcade glided up the iconic Champs-Elysees, arguably the grandest thoroughfare in the French capital, for the ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe. As Trump approached the monument, a topless woman ran toward the motorcade.
On her chest were the words “Fake Peacemaker.”
Police apprehended her as she came within several feet of the vehicles. Femen, a French radical feminist group, later asserted responsibility for the stunt.
“FEMEN believes that restoring world peace with those who are responsible for the ongoing wars is hypocritical. How could they work for peace?” the group said in a statement.
The Femen statement also attacked other world leaders present for the occasion, notably Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Does Trump work for peace when he flouts international treaties? No! Is Putin working for peace in Syria when he defends dictator Bashar al-Assad? No!” the statement read.
“Does Erdogan work for peace when he’s perpetuating Armenian Genocide denial? Or when he keeps attacking Kurdish people? No! . . . Does Netanyahu work for peace when bombing Gaza? No!”
Police detained two people, according to Reuters.
On the other side of town, in the symbolic Place de la Republique, a bigger planned protest took place.
Although nowhere close to the size of the London demonstrations in July against Trump, the group of hundreds of left-wing activists, students and neighborhood residents braved the cold November rain to voice anger over Trump’s policies.
The U.S. president is deeply unpopular in France, where 65 percent of voters view him in a negative light, according to a poll by the Odoxa agency for Le Figaro newspaper that was released last week.
Like the London event, however, the Paris protest featured the same giant balloon of Trump styled as a baby, wearing nothing but a diaper and clutching a smartphone.
Some of those gathered in Paris expressed disgust with the White House’s policy of separating migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“No human is illegal. No human should be illegal,” said Dario Fabejanac, 37, who said he works with people with disabilities. Trump has “made America and the world a less safe place than it was before he was elected. We don’t want him here,” Fabejanac said.
Others shared those concerns, but, like Femen, were also sharply critical of French President Emmanuel Macron for having invited Trump, in addition to continuing to do business with Saudi Arabia.
Ties with Saudi Arabia have become an increasingly pressing issue here in the aftermath of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist, in early October. Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and critic of the Saudi leadership, was killed after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain a document necessary for his coming marriage.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stands accused of having personally ordered the killing of the journalist. Mohammed denies any role in it.
In the aftermath of the affair, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she would suspend German arms sales to Saudi Arabia. France, however, like other European countries, issued a sharp rebuke over Khashoggi’s killing but stopped short of halting arms sales.
“We’re against Trump, but also against Macron’s international politics,” said Mihan, a 32-year-old Paris resident who would give only her first name. “Don’t forget it’s France that also sells arms to Saudi Arabia.”
In Europe, Britain and France sell the largest amounts of arms to Saudi Arabia. In 2017, potential French sales of more than $14.7 billion were approved.
“I’m here against Trump but also against Macron, who invited all these killers here,” said Juliette Moulin, 70, a retiree who lives in Paris. “We stopped this morning to celebrate the end of war. But with friends like these — Trump, Erdogan — the future will be the same.”