Thousands marched through Paris on Sunday in a "Jour de colère" or "Day of Anger" against President Francois Hollande’s policies.
The "Day of Anger" turned into a "Day of Hatred" as demonstrators who gathered to protest against France’s struggling economy, (high unemployment, high taxes, and lack of personal freedoms) spat out hateful comments.
Organisers claimed a turnout of some 120,000 people, however police estimated there were 17,000 people at the protest, held under pouring rain.
The demonstrators called for several demands. While some called for France's withdrawal from the European Union. Others called for the repeal of laws legalizing same-sex marriages. Another group urged the respect of freedom of speech, referring to the ban instated on the French comic Dieudonné's show "The Wall", which was banned for its anti-Semitic themes.
Protesters carried banners that read, "The French are angry!" along with signs portraying Hollande wearing donkey ears with a school grade of Zero which read, "You, President Resign”. Some railed against Israel and Jews in France, chanting phrases such as "Israel out of Europe" and "Jew get out, France doesn't belong to you."
Some of the slogans on banners in French : "Juif, la France n'est pas à toi", "Europe pédo criminelle sioniste satanique", "Hollande ou le Crif, qui dirige qui?". Some were screaming "La France aux Français, bleu blanc rouge!", "Ça va péter, ça va péter", "Liberté d'expression", "CRS, milice des juifs"
Another group of protesters towards the end of the march carried flags, effigies of Dieudonné, and pineapples, a symbol the French comic uses to subvert the law against Holocaust denial. According to anonymous eyewitnesses, protesters also performed the controversial Quenelle gesture, which has been likened to an inverted Nazi salute. If you don't know what Quenelle means, read it here.
A Twitter account linked to the protest, @JourDeColere, received dozens of tweets per minute, including hateful messages. One such tweet read, "We remind you that foreigners and gays, are not welcome, unlike pets."
On the sidelines of the protest, dozens of activists from the Femen group chanted slogans including "go graze elsewhere" and "hang the fascists," before being arrested by police.
The crowd complained about the recent scandal involving Hollande’s personal life, saying "the country’s leaders are more preoccupied with their affairs...than unemployment," and that Hollande is bringing dishonor to France.
The rally which was violent ended in clashes between police and protesters. Security forces used tear gas to disperse several hundred youths who lobbed police with bottles, fireworks, iron bars and dustbins. The French Police said at least 150 people had been arrested after the clashes, during which 12 officers were injured.
Several attacks on journalists were also reported as protesters railed against them, calling them "sluts" and "collaborators", a reference to the Nazi collaborators in occupied France.