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The French have done it again. Two weeks after same-sex “marriage” became legal, the odds seemed against a major turnout for the latest national demonstration against the new law.

And the minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls, certainly did his best to discourage would-be participants from joining the march: all day Saturday, he sent out alarming messages on television and on the radio warning that in view of expected violence families with children would do best to stay at home.

But on Sunday, organizers estimated that up to a million people marched from three different points in Paris towards the Invalides, including large numbers of young people and families with children and babies in push-cars.

One mother answering the press said she had originally intended to come without her kids – Valls’ intimidation tactics encouraged her to bring them along.

The estimate given by organizers is more than six times the number given out by the ministry of the Interior. However, having walked in the dense crowds from the Austerlitz station to Invalides and seen photos and films of the other two walks, a million seems more plausible than the “150,000” noted by the police – and Valls has proved over recent months that minimizing participation statistics by any means is a specialty of his administration.

Not to mention hampering and hindrances of all kinds: the number of regional trains coming in from the western suburbs where many more conservative families live was unexplainably halved on Sunday without notice, and specially hired coaches coming in from the north of Paris were stopped for customs controls.

The spirit of the marches was grave and determined, but as always largely peaceful.

Less than two weeks previous, riots broke out in Paris when fans of the Paris Saint-Germain soccer club were to celebrate the clubs victory in the national football league: hundreds of ethnic youths from the suburbs came to join (and ruin) the party, burning cars, smashing shop windows and placing the more luxurious parts of Paris in a state of siege.

The riots only gave rise to 21 arrests and the government was heavily criticized for not having handled the crisis adequately – the police were even called away when the “disturbances” began.

Manuel Valls capitalized on those incidents by announcing that on May 26th, when the “well-behaved French” who pay their taxes and leave demonstration venues impeccably unscathed came for their rally, he would deploy 4,500 law enforcement officers to prevent the “violence” he was expecting – not to say hoping for. …

[May 28, 2013,]

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