By Yusuf Ozcan</p> <p>PARIS (AA) - The Yellow Vest protests in the French capital Paris, which have been continuing since mid-November, have spread to southern and western parts of the country.</p> <p>The protests are regarded as the greatest crisis since President Emmanuel Macron has assumed his office; although he organized negotiation meetings in various parts of the country, the protests continue shaking the country.</p> <p>In a bid to attract countrywide attention, the Yellow Vests first focused on capital Paris in the early days of the protests.</p> <p>While political parties or unions generally chose Republique, Nation or Bastille squares for demonstrations, Yellow Vests preferred the Champs-Elysees.</p> <p>The protests, which attracted significant attention until mid-December, turned violent. Some protestors clashed with the police forces, damaged public institutions, plundered shops and set cars on fire. The security forces' response to the protestors was harsh.</p> <p>However, in recent weeks, the protests began to draw large participation not in Paris but also in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Rouen, Nantes and Evreux -- southern and western cities.</p> <p>The French officials believe that the main reason of these widespread protests is that some of the pioneer figures of Yellow Vests movement -- Maxime Nicolle, Priscillia Ludosky and Eric Drouet -- join protests in different cities every week.</p> <p>Last week, more than 5,000 people were present at the protests in Bordeaux, where tension was high between Yellow Vests and police forces. Maxime Nicolle and 49 others were arrested. </p> <p>On the other hand, the protests in Paris, attended by 4,000 people, were less intense.</p> <p>The same day, the demonstration in Toulouse drew thousands of protestors, and the event turned violent.</p> <p>The protestors, who pelted stones, on the police force were responded with pepper spray; meanwhile, some protestors damaged bank buildings. Two protesters were arrested following the clashes.</p> <p>Furthermore, Evreux district of Eure city -- home to some 50,000 people -- also saw violence after the protestors and security forces clashed, culminating in the arrest of two.</p> <p>In Toulouse, the protests of Jan. 19 were attended by 10,000 people, 60 of them were arrested. In Paris, 7,000 people hit the streets, from where 20 were arrested.</p> <p>The demonstrations in Toulouse, Rouen, Caen, Rennes and Lyon cities made it to the headlines with acts of violence.</p> <p>Compared to the demonstrations in capital Paris, the protests of Jan. 12 in Nimes, Nantes, Rouen and especially Toulouse and Bordeaux cities had witnessed much more violence.</p> <p>In Bordeaux, at least 41 people were arrested following the clashes; some 7,000 people attended the demonstration. Toulouse was yet another place that saw acts of violence. The police forces used pepper spray in both cities.</p> <p>The protests in Nantes left seven people arrested.</p> <p>On Jan. 5, more than 4,500 people attended the protests in Bordeaux while some 3,500 people took part in Paris. Toulouse protests attracted 2,000 people, while there were some 1,700 protesters in Rouen.</p> <p>There were clashes between the police and protestors in Paris; however, the tension was slightly higher in the other cities. The clashes in Rouen city led to the arrest of four people.</p> <p>In Nantes, police forces used pepper spray in response to the occasional tensions. The protestors set surrounding places on fire and at least one person was wounded. The protestors in Bordeaux burnt many cars.</p> <p>The demonstrations held during Christmas and New Year’s holiday were calmer throughout the country. The participation ratio was lower and no act of violence was recorded.</p> <p> </p> <p><br></p> <p>- Economic assistance to companies</p> <p><br>
Southern and western cities of Bordeaux, Dijon, Saint-Etienne, Nantes, Rennes and Toulouse are among the most financially affected cities due to Yellow Vest protests.
It has been stated that the shopkeepers suffered serious monetary loses due to the ongoing protests.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Economy, the French government would provide €36 million ($41 million) to 4,577 companies who sought assistance due to loses.
Since Nov. 17, thousands of protesters wearing bright yellow vests — dubbed the Yellow Vests — have gathered in major French cities, including Paris, to protest Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and deteriorating economic situation.
Demonstrators held protests blocking roads, as well as the entrances and exits to gas stations and factories across the country.
Under pressure, Macron announced a rise in the minimum wage and scuttled the tax hike.
Since then, however, the protests have grown into a broader movement aimed at tackling income inequality and are calling for giving citizens a stronger voice in government decision-making.
At least 10 people have died, around 6,000 others have been detained and over 2,000 others have been injured in the protests.