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After being called out on Twitter by Courtney Love, French president Francois Hollande condemned the violence against Uber drivers that had the rock star stranded in her car outside of a Paris airport and made the issue a global media topic, including in the U.S. and U.K. and across Europe.
Love’s photos and tweets brought the battle home for followers across the globe, with some expressing shock at the level of violence in the country’s capital and one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
With the added glamour – and clamor – of an American star trapped in a car, the coverage of Love’s tweets made headlines in papers across France, as well as news TV networks, including TF1 and BFMTV, plus drew coverage around the world.
And it drew political reactions in France.
“There is violence that is unacceptable in a democracy, unacceptable in a country like France,” Hollande said of the protests that had rocked the country, as angry taxi drivers overturned cars, set tires on fire and blocked access to airports, trains and trams nationwide. He added that he can “understand that there is exasperation” about the competition provided by the California-based company and its ride-haling app.
The protests were said to specifically target the low-cost UberPop service, though the black car UberX drivers were also attacked. Hollande declared that the low-cost UberPop service should be ended. “UberPop should be disbanded and declared illegal, and the seizure of vehicles should be imposed and carried out,” the president said.
Interior minister Bernard Cazenueve said late Thursday that the UberPop service would be de facto banned with the issuance of a prefectural order, somewhat similar to an order from an American county, in Paris.
In an interview on business news network BFMTV, Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal said that such an order would have no effect on the service. “This is a prefectural stop, we will challenge it and see what happens in the appeal,” he said, adding that for now “it changes nothing.” Uber maintains that orders cannot stop the service, only a court can declare it illegal.
In a series of messages directed at Kanye West, whose wife Kim Kardashian and her sister Kylie Jenner had been in Cannes for the Lions Festival, the singer wrote: “Dude @kanyewest we may turn back to the airport and hide out with u.picketers just attacked our car #ParisUberStrike,” she wrote. She attached a photo of the protestors pelting her car from inside the smashed window.
“They’ve ambushed our car and are holding our driver hostage. they’re beating the cars with metal bats. This is France?? I’m safer in Baghdad,” she continued.
In a tweet directed at French president Hollande, she wrote: “Where are the fucking police??? is it legal for your people to attack visitors? Get your ass to the airport. WTF???”
Love said she had been held hostage in the car for an hour, with the car destroyed and all tires slashed, before paying two locals to take her out by motorcycle. She then posted the photos to Instagram.
we got out after being held hostage for an hour thanks to these two guys. I’m scared out of my wits.… https://t.co/cAOELz463U
— Courtney Love Cobain (@Courtney) June 25, 2015
The protests continued Friday as taxi drivers continued to block some roads in Paris, and visitors at the star-studded Cannes Lions Festival found roads to the Nice airport blocked again. Tires were burned around the airport, and one black car driver attacked. Travelers were advised to approach the airport on foot by local authorities.
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