President Donald Trump retweeted a post Tuesday making several inaccurate claims about the ongoing protests that have rocked Paris and other parts of France.
The original tweet was written by Charlie Kirk, founder and president of the right-wing nonprofit Turning Point USA. In his post, Kirk claimed, “There are riots in socialist France because of radical leftist fuel taxes.” He added that “Europe is burning” and that the demonstrations are a middle-class rebellion against “cultural Marxism.”
“‘We want Trump' being chanted through the streets of Paris,” he concluded.
Although protesters have taken to the streets to demonstrate against fuel taxes—which were promoted as a way of combating climate change—as well as other price hikes, the criticism of President Emmanuel Macron is actually the opposite of what Kirk and other right-wing commentators have claimed. Opposition political leaders have actually called for increased taxes on the wealthy, while demonstrators have taken to the streets against rising costs, as they've seen some of their social support curbed by the government.
Kirk's claim that people are chanting “We want Trump” appears to be based on a trending video of demonstrators appearing to mock the U.S. president. The video circulating on social media does not appear to have been filmed in Paris or even in France but in London, possibly during anti-Trump demonstrations earlier this year. Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh also claimed that French demonstrators were chanting “We want Trump.”
However, French residents told Newsweek that the suggestions were laughable, as there were signs lining roads calling Macron a “capitalist pig.” Demonstrators are also calling for higher taxes on the rich and to redistribute wealth in the country, they said.
France 24's White House correspondent Philip Crowther slammed Trump for retweeting the false claims made by Kirk. “Lies being retweeted by the President: Europe is obviously not burning, and ‘We want Trump' is not being chanted through the streets of Paris,” he wrote. “Also, the fuel taxes are not radical leftist and France is not socialist. Any other lies?”
One protester told The Guardian that he just wanted “a fairer distribution of wealth” in his country. A second protester explained to the British newspaper that many French feel they “are being targeted instead of the airlines, the shipping lines, those companies who pollute more but pay no tax.”
On Tuesday, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that the planned fuel tax increase will be postponed by at least six months because the “unity of the nation” is at risk. Meanwhile, Macron has seen his approval rating plummet to well below 30 percent over the past year as he has pushed for more right-wing economic policies while also curbing government subsidies to the French people. He has been dubbed the President of the Rich and routinely criticized for being disconnected from the problems facing his people.