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Gilets jaunes: How much anti-Semitism is beneath the yellow vests?


Philosopher Alain Finkielkraut was subjected to anti-Semitic abuse

The French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, has said she won’t join other political parties in a march against anti-Semitism on Tuesday, accusing France’s leaders of doing nothing to tackle Islamist networks in France and saying she will mark the occasion separately.

It comes days after a prominent French philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut, was verbally attacked for being Jewish as he walked past the weekly “gilets jaunes” (yellow-vest) protests in Paris.

A small group of protesters shouted a barrage of abuse at him as he passed by the demonstration on his way home from lunch on Saturday, calling him a “dirty Zionist” and telling him to “go back to Tel Aviv”.

“I felt an absolute hatred,” Mr Finkielkraut told one French newspaper later that night. “If the police hadn’t been there, I would have been frightened.”

A few days before that, official data suggested there had been a 74% rise in anti-Semitic attacks in France last year.

Now, many here are questioning whether the gilets jaunes movement is providing a new kind of forum for these extremist views, and how central those attitudes are to the movement.

“It’s very serious,” says Vincent Duclert, a specialist in anti-Semitism in France at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences – one of France’s most prestigious colleges.

“The gilets jaunes are not an anti-Semitic movement, but alongside the demonstration each Saturday there’s a lot of anti-Semitic expression by groups of the extreme right or extreme left.”

‘Yellow-vests’ pelt police van with stones

“You can be on the streets demonstrating every Saturday, shouting your slogans against the Jews,” says Jean-Yves Camus, an expert in French political extremism.

“And as there’s no leadership in the movement and no stewarding of the demonstrations, you can be free to do it. I’m afraid there will be more attacks, because the self-proclaimed leaders simply do not seem to care that much.”

Jason Herbert, a spokesman for the movement, says the incident on Saturday is a scandal, but not representative of the gilets jaunes as a whole.

“It’s the inherent weakness of a movement that lets the people speak,” he explained. “Everyone can come and give his opinion – and some opinions are despicable and illegal. To think someone is inferior because of his or her origins is just not acceptable, and it’s completely unrelated to our demands. Amongst our demands, I’ve never heard ‘we want fewer Jews’.”

A protester holds up a sign that says 'Anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia, racism is not us'
Some protesters have carried signs denouncing racism and discrimination

The gilets jaunes began life as a protest against fuel tax rises, but have broadened into a loose confederation of different interest groups with no official hierarchy or leadership. Over the past three months, as the movement has appeared more radical, its wider support has dipped.

Vincent Duclert believes that the movement does bear some responsibility for the extremist abuse in its midst, because the violence of the protests – towards the police, state institutions and public property – encourages anti-Semitism by encouraging “transgression”.

And, he says, it’s possible that the gilets jaunes are also offering “a new space for different kinds of anti-Semitism to come together: from the extreme right and extreme left, but also from radical Islamist or anti-Zionist groups, and some types of social conservatives”.

There are signs over the past year, he says, that levels of anti-Semitism have risen within these different groups, because of changes at home, across Europe and in the Middle East, and that French public opinion has been too tolerant.

Gilets jaunes: How much anti-Semitism is beneath the yellow vests?
Marine Le Pen is among those trying to court the support of the protesters

Politicians here have been quick to condemn Saturday’s attack on Alain Finkielkraut. President Macron tweeted that it was “the absolute negation of what we are and what makes us a great nation”.

Others tried to blame it on their political rivals.

A member of France’s centre-right opposition, Geoffrey Didier, told reporters that anti-Semitism was growing “because radical Islamism is growing in France”, while Marine Le Pen said it illustrated “how the anti-Semite far-left is trying to infiltrate the gilets jaunes movement”.

Both Ms Le Pen’s party and that of her far-left rival, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, have been trying to win the support of the gilets jaunes ahead of European elections in May.

Jean-Yves Camus believes last week’s attack will help turn public opinion against the movement, saying it has become “a hotbed of radical activity from both sides of the political spectrum and the French do not want that”.

Jewish graves desecrated near Strasbourg in eastern France


The graves were desecrated at the Jewish cemetery in Quatzenheim, near Strasbourg

Some 80 graves have been desecrated with swastikas at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France, local officials say.

The damage was discovered on Tuesday, ahead of nationwide marches against a rise in anti-Semitic attacks.

It occurred at a cemetery in the village of Quatzenheim, on the night of Monday into Tuesday, town hall officials told the franceinfo website.

President Emmanuel Macron has condemned anti-Semitic abuse after a prominent intellectual was targeted.

Police stepped in to protect the philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut, after he was bombarded with insults and anti-Jewish taunts by a group of “yellow vest” protesters in Paris at the weekend.

Mr Macron visited the cemetery to inspect the damage on Tuesday, before he heads to the Paris Holocaust memorial.

“It’s important for me to be here with you today,” he told local leaders and members of the Jewish community.

Several local officials denounced the desecration on social media.

Mr Castaner has warned that anti-Semitism is “spreading like poison” in the country, with a series of anti-Jewish incidents reported in central Paris last weekend.

These included post-boxes featuring a Holocaust survivor’s portrait being vandalised with swastikas.

Official data suggested there had been a 74% rise in anti-Semitic attacks in France last year.

Jewish groups have also been warning that a rising far right across Europe has been promoting anti-Semitism and hatred of other minorities.

Crime data from Germany released last week revealed that anti-Semitic offences had increased by 10% over the past year – including a 60% rise in physical attacks.

Attacks have been blamed on both the far right and Islamists.

Yellow-vest protests: Macron condemns anti-Semitic abuse”:


Tens of thousands took part in anti-government protests on Saturday

French President Emmanuel Macron has condemned anti-Semitic abuse directed at a prominent intellectual by a group of “yellow vest” protesters in Paris.

Police stepped in to protect the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut after he was bombarded with insults and anti-Jewish taunts in the French capital.

President Macron said it was an “absolute negation” of what made France great and would not be tolerated.

Tens of thousands took part in anti-government protests on Saturday.

Prosecutors have now opened an investigation into the incident, and France’s interior minister said on Sunday that a suspect alleged to be the “main perpetrator” had been identified by the authorities.

Police used tear gas to control crowds as the so-called “yellow vest” (gilets jaunes) demonstrators took to the streets for the 14th consecutive weekend across the country. About 5,000 turned out in Paris, officials said.

What happened on Saturday?

Officers in Paris intervened to form a barrier after a group of individuals involved in the march confronted Mr Finkielkraut and started verbally insulting him.

The 69-year-old Jewish academic told Le Parisien newspaper that he heard people shouting “dirty Zionist” and “throw yourself in the canal”.

French writer and philosopher Alain Finkielkraut poses for a photograph at his home in Paris, 16 June 2015
GETTY IMAGES

Alain Finkielkraut said he was relieved when the police intervened

He told newspaper Journal du Dimanche he felt an “absolute hate” directed at him, and would have been afraid for his safety if the police were not there, although he stressed that not all of the protesters were aggressive.

Mr Finkielkraut, the son of Polish immigrants, has previously expressed sympathy for the protesters, but also voiced criticism of the movement.

He said that President Macron had spoken with him by telephone on Saturday to offer his support.

The incident comes after Interior Minister Christophe Castaner warned that anti-Semitism was “spreading like poison” in the country, with a series of anti-Jewish incidents reported in central Paris last weekend.

These included post boxes featuring a holocaust survivor’s portrait being vandalised with swastikas.

Jewish groups have also been warning of a rise in the far-right promoting anti-Semitism and hatred of other minorities across Europe.

Crime data from Germany released last week revealed that anti-Semitic offences had increased by 10% over the last year – including a 60% rise in physical attacks.

Who are the “yellow vest” protesters?

The protests began in mid-November over fuel taxes.

They have since broadened into a revolt against President Macron, and a political class seen as out of touch with common people.

Media captionFrance fuel protests: Who are the people in the yellow vests?

The protests have often turned violent, causing damage – including to some of Paris’ most famous monuments.

Critics have also accused the police of using disproportionate force.

The number of protesters taking to French streets has been gradually falling – but tens of thousands are still turning out weekly to demonstrate across France.

France’s interior ministry said a total of 41,500 people took part in protests across the country on Saturday, including some 5,000 people in Paris, although the organisers of the march said many more attended.

“We are 15,000 [in Paris], that means the movement is increasing,” demonstrator Jerome Rodrigues told AFP news agency.

Vatican envoy Luigi Ventura faces sexual assault claim”:


Archbishop Luigi Ventura is Italian by birth

The Vatican’s ambassador to France is under investigation for sexual assault.

Luigi Ventura, 74, allegedly molested a junior official at a mayoral address to diplomats at Paris town hall on 17 January.

The city mayor’s office filed a complaint on 24 January and a judicial investigation opened the next day.

Archbishop Ventura has served as ambassador for 10 years. The allegations come amid a wave of sexual abuse accusations in the clergy.

AFP

Luigi Ventura met President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace earlier in January

It is traditional for ambassadors to attend the Paris mayor’s New Year address to diplomats, religious leaders and civil society figures

A City Hall official told Reuters that Archbishop Ventura “caressed in an insistent and repeated manner” the buttocks of the young man who welcomed him to the event.

Last week, Pope Francis acknowledged sexual abuse of nuns by priests and in December two cardinals were demoted following abuse allegations.

Mr Ventura’s representatives have declined to comment on the allegations.

French cash delivery man arrested after a van with €3m vanishes”:


File photo: The Loomis security van driver vanished during a delivery, along with the cash

Two cash delivery workers in France got a shock when they found their money-filled van had vanished – along with the third member of their team.

The van was soon found nearby but there was no sign of the 28-year-old driver or €3.4m (£3m) in cash.

He was eventually tracked down to a flat in Amiens, along with some of the missing money.

The suspect, named as Adrien Derbez, was arrested in the city on Tuesday evening.

According to news agency AFP, an estimated €1.5m is still missing.

The sudden vanishing act happened early on Monday morning. At about 06:00 (05:00 GMT), the team of three were making a routine cash delivery in their security van to a Western Union branch in Aubervilliers, on the outskirts of Paris.

Two of them took the ordered amount of cash inside, leaving the third man to watch the vehicle.

“When they came back out, the van and the driver were gone,” a police source told AFP.

A few blocks away, the white van from the Loomis cash transit company was discovered with its doors open and contents emptied – and no sign of the driver.

On Tuesday, police appealed for witnesses and released a photograph and description of Mr Derbez.

A police handout photo of Adrien Derbez
AFP / POLICE

Mr Derbez had vanished, but was found in Amiens late the following day

Following a tip-off, police raided an apartment in Amiens that evening, French media report.

At around 17:00, officers allegedly found Mr Derbez trying to escape through a window carrying several bags filled with banknotes, French broadcaster BFMTV said.

Three other people have been arrested since as part of the investigation. A large sum of money was also recovered – and was being counted to see how much, if any, was missing, the local prosecutor said.

The theft has similarities to the famous case of Toni Musulin, a Frenchman who stole some €11.6m (£10.2m) from the security van he was driving in 2009.

He vanished, along with the cash, in November that year, briefly becoming an internet superstar in France for his meticulously planned and bloodless heist.

However, most of the cash was found in a garage, and Musulin handed himself in to police in Monaco days later.

He spent four years in prison.

Christophe Dettinger: French ‘yellow vest’ boxer convicted:


Dettinger, here portrayed in a mural alongside the word “freedom”, has become known throughout France

A former French boxing champion has been convicted for assaulting two police officers at an anti-government “yellow vest” protest in Paris.

Christophe Dettinger, 37, was filmed on 5 January throwing punches in footage that was widely shared on social media.

He was sentenced to 30 months in jail.

Eighteen months of the sentence are suspended, and he will be able to serve the 12 months in what is termed “semi-liberty”.

The protests began in mid-November over fuel taxes but broadened into a revolt against President Emmanuel Macron.

Dettinger’s case, and the yellow vest movement, have divided France.

In a separate development on Wednesday, the restaurant of a Michelin-starred French chef was targeted in a suspected arson attack – the second time in two weeks.

Prosecutors are now investigating whether Yannick Delpech’s restaurant L’Amphitryon was set ablaze in retaliation for his criticism of the “yellow vest” movement.

What did the court rule?

The verdict was announced by the Paris Criminal Court on Wednesday.

It said that Dettinger would spend one year in prison in the “semi-liberty” regime.

That means he will serve night times in jail, but will be at liberty during the day.

He is also banned from staying in Paris for six months.

A video grab made on 7 January 2019 shows former boxer Christophe Dettinger broadcasting a message of apology for punching police officers during a "yellow vest" protest in Paris
The former champion handed himself into police last month

Reports from the courtroom suggested Dettinger’s supporters were happy with the sentence. He could have been jailed for seven years.

During the trial, he said he had made a “mistake” after seeing police clashing with protesters.

Why is the case so divisive?

Dettinger, who was France’s cruiserweight champion in 2007-08, handed himself into police custody two days after the 5 January protest.

Following his arrest, more than €114,000 (£102,000) was raised in a fundraiser for the former boxer Thousands left comments in support, including some opposition politicians.

The page was then removed after sharp criticism that it condoned violence against the police.

Dettinger, a father of three, had been working as a public servant in the south of the city before the incident.

Before handing himself in to police, Dettinger posted a video of himself on YouTube explaining his actions.

In it, he described himself as an “ordinary citizen” who had “reacted wrongly” in anger after witnessing police using tear-gas and flash-ball (rubber bullet) rounds against protesters.

Another protester, Gwenaelle Antinori Le Joncour, spoke as a witness in Dettinger’s defence in the one-day trial on Wednesday.

“He was seeing a woman of 47 kilos being hit and seeing my oldest son being hit that he couldn’t stand, because there was too much violence,” she said in court.

Gwenaelle Antinori Le Joncour
During the trial, Dettinger’s lawyer argued he was responding to Ms Le Joncour (pictured) being assaulted by police

The number of gilets jaunes (yellow vest) protesters taking to French streets has been gradually falling – but tens of thousands are still turning out weekly to demonstrate across France.

Their protests have often turned violent, causing damage – including to some of Paris’ most famous monuments.

Hundreds of injuries and a number of deaths have also been linked to the demonstrations.

Almost 1,800 people have been sentenced in court so far, mostly with destruction of public property and attacks on the police, AFP reports.

Another 1,400 more protesters are still awaiting trial, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Tuesday.

Eric Drouet, one of the group’s leading figures, is due to appear in court in Paris on Friday on charges of illegally organising a demonstration.

Anti-Semitism: Germany sees ‘10% jump in offences’ in 2018


The government has said the total tallied amount may still increase

The German government has revealed a sharp increase in the number of anti-Semitic offences recorded last year.

Crime data, detailed in German media on Wednesday, says 1,646 crimes were linked to a hatred of Jews in 2018 – showing a yearly increase of 10%.

It comes just a day after French politicians spoke out about a sharp rise of incidents in their own country.

French Interior minister, Christophe Castaner, has warned that anti-Semitism is “spreading like poison”.

Over the weekend there were a series of anti-Semitic incidents reported in central Paris – including Swastika vandalism on post-boxes featuring a holocaust survivor’s portrait.

The latest data from Germany was released after a request from a member of the far-left Die Linke party. That information was then shared with German newspaper, Der Tagesspiegel.

The government have said the final totals may still increase – but the latest collation of data revealed a total jump in anti-Semitic offences of about 10%.

It also revealed a 60% rise in physical attacks – with 62 violent incidents recorded, up from 37 in 2017.

Josef Shcuster, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said the news shows that government action is “urgently needed”.

“The latest numbers are not yet official, but at least they reflect a tendency – and that’s scary,” he said in a statement to the BBC.

“What had already solidified as a subjective impression among Jews is now confirmed in the statistics.

“Considering that acts below the threshold for criminal liability are not covered, the picture becomes even darker.”

Jewish groups have warned about the rise of far-right groups in fostering anti-Semitism and hatred of other minorities throughout Europe.

Last year, a survey of thousands of European Jews revealed that many were increasingly worried about anti-Semitism.

In April, a young Jewish man was attacked in Berlin

Since 2017, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) have been country’s main opposition party.

AfD are openly against immigration, but deny holding anti-Semitic views.

However, a number of comments from their politicians, including about the Holocaust, have drawn scorn from Jewish groups and other politicians.

Last year the German government announced that a specialist team would be sent into German schools to try and combat anti-Semitism.

There have also been calls for special classes about anti-Semitism to be provided for some immigrants.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany said the classes were needed after a large increased in immigration from Muslim-majority countries.

It came after a video went viral showing a man, shouting in Arabic, attacking two Jewish men in Berlin.

Last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said it was the responsibility of everyone to have a “zero tolerance” approach to anti-Semitism and other forms of xenophobia.

“People growing up today must know what people were capable of in the past, and we must work proactively to ensure that it is never repeated,” Merkel during a video address to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.


French mayor issues ban on ‘excessive dog barking’


Dog owners in Feuquières face a €68 (£60) fine for any barking which “disturbs the rest or relaxation of people.”

The mayor of a town in northern France has issued a ban on excessive dog barking in a bid to curb canine noise pollution.

From Monday, dog owners in Feuquières face a €68 (£60; $77) fine for “prolonged or repeated barking”.

Mayor Jean-Pierre Estienne says the ban is in response to dogs “barking day and night” and creating “an unbearable situation” in the village.

The decree has been criticised by animal rights activists.

“The aim is not to ban dogs and we won’t be fining people for the slightest hint of a yap,” Mr Estienne told French newspaper Le Parisien (in French).

“The town has nothing against dogs but when you decide to have them, you educate them.”

Passed by the local council earlier this month, the decree forbids dogs from being left in enclosed areas without owners being nearby to stop “prolonged or repeated barking”.

Yappy dogs must also be kept inside if their behaviour “disturbs the rest or relaxation” of Feuquières’ 1,400 residents.

Offenders (or more specifically, their owners) will receive a fine for each complaint made against them.

Barking is a common form of communication which dogs use to express their feelings and gain the attention of those nearby.

The decree follows a petition by villagers against one particular resident.

“She has several dogs, some large,” said Mr Estienne. “We have made several attempts to establish a dialogue with her, to no avail.”

“If I took this decision, it is because we found no other way out. I couldn’t sit idly by,” he said.

The move has been condemned as “completely barking” by Stéphane Lamart, president of the Association for the Defence of Animal Rights.

“You may as well stop church bells ringing on Sunday morning,” Mr Lamart told Le Monde newspaper (in French).

“If dogs have mouths, it’s so they can bark.”

Mr Lamart said he intended to launch an appeal with the local court. “I’ve never seen a dog bark from morning to evening,” he said.

This is not the first time French authorities have tried to dampen doggy decibels.

In 2012, Sainte-Foy-la-Grande in southwest France passed a ban on any excessive dog barking that disturbed “public order”.

Can you stop a dog from barking?

Barking is a regular form of communication for most dog breeds, but loud and regular yapping is a common complaint by owners and their neighbours.

Whilst noise levels vary, some barks can bite 100 dB – louder than factory machinery.

An Australian golden retriever named Charlie holds the world record for the loudest bark, measuring 113.1 dB.

Canine companions bark for many reasons: to get attention, to fend off perceived danger or express anxiety, to name a few.

Jenna Kiddie, Canine Behaviour Manager at charity Dogs Trust, warns against using anti-bark collars and other aversive training methods.

“It is vital to investigate why and address the underlying motivation rather than just address the behaviour itself,” says Ms Kiddie.

“Although it can be very frustrating, especially if you have neighbours to consider, telling your dog off might make them more anxious or confused, and could make the situation worse

Yellow vest’ protester loses fingers in violent unrest’ in France


A “yellow vest” protester in France had his fingers ripped off during clashes at the parliament building in Paris, as the protests went into their 13th week.

The protester attempted to pick up a rubber pellet grenade and it exploded in his hand, French media reported.

There was also an arson attack on the home of the head of France’s National Assembly, though it was not clear if the attack was linked to the protests.

The “yellow vest” protests began in mid-November over fuel taxes.

They have since broadened into a revolt against the President, Emmanuel Macron, and a political class seen as out of touch with common people.

According to French government figures, 51,400 people joined the protests on Saturday, 4,000 of them in Paris. That was down from the previous week, when official figures put the number at 58,600, 10,500 in Paris.

Representatives for the yellow vests disputed the previous week’s numbers, claiming the turnout was higher.

In Paris on Saturday, the protesters marched from the Champs-Elysees to the city’s parliament buildings, where a violent contingent broke down barriers and threw projectiles at police. Police responded with tear gas and anti-riot munitions.

Yellow vest protester gesturing at a burning car
Cars have been set on fire close to the yellow vests’ protest in Bordeaux

According to an eyewitness, the person who lost their hand was a photographer attempting to take pictures of people breaking down barriers around the National Assembly building.

“When the cops went to disperse people, he got hit by a sting-ball grenade in the calf,” 21-year-old Cyprien Royer told AFP news agency. “He wanted to bat it away so it didn’t explode by his leg and it went off when he touched it.

“We put him to one side and called the street medics. It wasn’t pretty: he was screaming with pain, he had no fingers – he didn’t have much above the wrist.”

Paris police confirmed that a demonstrator was injured in the hand and been treated by paramedics, but did not identify the victim.

France recalls ambassador to Italy as diplomatic row deepens”:

Tens of thousands of protesters turned out in other parts of France, including the port cities of Marseille and Montpellier and also in Bordeaux and Toulouse in the southwest.

Eight police officers were lightly injured during clashes with protesters in Bordeaux, local police said.

Red scarves’ march in Paris against yellow-vest violence

Politicians came together to condemn the arson attack on the home of Richard Ferrand, a close ally of Mr Macron, in Motreff, Brittany.

Mr Ferrand published pictures on Twitter of his scorched living room, writing: “Nothing justifies intimidations and violence towards an elected official of the Republic.”

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France recalls ambassador to Italy as diplomatic row deepens”:


A diplomatic row between France and Italy has deepened, with France complaining of “unfounded attacks and outlandish claims” by Italian leaders.

France recalled its ambassador to Italy for talks on Thursday, saying the situation was “unprecedented” since the end of World War Two.

It comes after Italian Deputy PM Luigi Di Maio met French “yellow-vest” protesters near Paris on Tuesday.

France warned him not to interfere in the country’s politics.

Relations between the two countries have been tense since Italy’s populist Five Star Movement and right-wing League party formed a coalition government in June 2018.

The two governments have clashed over a range of issues, including immigration.

What happened with Mr Di Maio?

The latest spat began after Mr Di Maio, the leader of Five Star Movement, met leaders of the anti-government “gilets jaunes” protests on Tuesday.

He posted a picture of himself on Twitter with a group including Ingrid Levavasseur, who is heading a yellow-vest list for elections to the European Parliament in May.

What has France said?

“For several months France has been the subject of repeated accusations, unfounded attacks and outlandish claims,” the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

“The most recent interferences constitute an additional and unacceptable provocation. They violate the respect that is owed to democratic choices made by a nation which is a friend and an ally. To disagree is one thing, to exploit a relationship for electoral aims is another.”

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio. Photo: January 2019
Luigi Di Maio tweeted that “the wind of change has crossed the Alps”

Italy’s fellow Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini later sought to ease tensions, saying he would be happy to hold talks with President Emmanuel Macron.

But to “reset” relations he said France had to address “fundamental” issues. He called on Paris to hand over left-wing militants wanted by Italy and to stop returning migrants. He also complained of lengthy French border checks causing traffic jams at the frontier.

Mr Salvini launched a direct personal attack on Mr Macron last month, saying he hoped the French people would soon be able to “free themselves of a terrible president”.

Writing on Facebook he said: “The opportunity will come on May 26 (European elections) when finally the French people will be able to take back control of their future, destiny, (and) pride, which are poorly represented by a character like Macron.”

On Wednesday, the French foreign ministry called Mr Di Maio’s visit a “new provocation” that was “unacceptable between neighbouring countries and partners at the heart of the EU”.

The BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris says the row represents a new low in the fast deteriorating relationship between Paris and Rome.

What is the background?

Much of the tension between the two countries has been about migration.

When France criticised Italy for not allowing rescue boats carrying migrants in the Mediterranean to dock, Italy responded by accusing France itself of refusing to accept migrants.

Italy says France has sent migrants back across Italy’s northern border.

In January, France summoned Italy’s ambassador after Mr Di Maio said Paris had “never stopped colonising tens of African states”.

Also last month, Mr Salvini accused France of harbouring 14 “terrorists” wanted by Italy, after a fugitive ex-militant was extradited from Bolivia.

France has also grown impatient with Italy over the building of a Lyon to Turin high-speed rail link which the Italian coalition partners cannot agree on.

Who are the ‘gilets jaunes’?

The gilets jaunes protesters first took to the streets in November, angered by fuel tax increases. They said the measure hurt those who lived in remote areas of France and who depended on cars.

France recalls ambassador to Italy as diplomatic row deepens":
France fuel protests: Who are the people in the yellow vests?

The movement derives its name from the high-visibility yellow vests protesters wear – and which French motorists are required by law to carry in their vehicles.

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