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Paris train station in flames after protest

by Courtney Deeren
Thu, Mar 26th 2020 03:00 pm
A fire broke out nearby the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris, France, as a result of a protest of pro-authoritarian Congolese singer Fally Ipupa. Thirty demonstrators have since been arrested.
A fire broke out nearby the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris, France, as a result of a protest of pro-authoritarian Congolese singer Fally Ipupa. Thirty demonstrators have since been arrested.

Nearly a year after the Notre Dame fire, Paris has experienced another inferno in response to a concert given by Congolese singer, Fally Ipupa. 

According to CNBC, “a police official told The Associated Press that someone set fire to a scooter near the train station, and the flames quickly spread to other vehicles.” 

Paris Police said in a tweet people were exhibiting “unacceptable violence” and defying a protest ban near the concert. 

In a separate tweet, including a video which showed bystanders clashing with firefighters, the police condemned demonstrators for keeping firefighters from getting to the area.

Train traffic was disrupted as the SNCF train service operator said the underground section of the Gare de Lyon was evacuated as a “precautionary measure.” 

France24.com reports “Congolese expats regularly speak out against artists from home who perform in France or Belgium, accusing them of being close to former DR Congo president Joseph Kabila and his successor Felix Tshisekedi, who took office in January 2019. Many see Tshisekedi as an extension of his predecessor.” 

According to police, 30 people were arrested and 54 were fined for participating in a “banned protest.”

Lwangi Bienvenu is a fan who travelled from Belgium for the concert. 

“It’s a shame. He’s Congolese, we should all be behind him,” Bienvenu said of the singer. “People will talk about the bad inside us. They put people in danger and they will now surely cancel the concert.”

Another concert in 2017 by Ipupa was canceled by police saying there were risks of “serious disturbances to the public order.”

“With their music, they [the Congolese government] are bringing an entire people to their side while they slaughter and rape women and children,” opponent Willy Dendebe told AFP at the scene, according to The Guardian. 

In the initial statement police released explaining the ban, police said, “The concert by the Congolese artist Fally Ipupa is taking place in a particularly tense political context between partisans and opponents of the current regime in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” 

This musical event has sparked a growing mobilization on social media with, notably, several calls for protests near the concert hall with the intention of clashing with the concertgoers. 

In these politically trying times, not only in our own country but in several others as well, it is easy to get wrapped up in the mass hysteria and join crowds in protest. 

However, it is always important to remember to be peaceful and ethical when exercising our rights to protest. Especially in scenarios like this when emergency responders need to have access to an area but can’t because of protesters.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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