Furious protests against Emmanuel Macron escalated last night after a group of protesters managed to storm the theatre the French President was attending. The mob of anti-government protesters could be heard chanting anti-Macron slogans as they clashed with police at the venue. The level of violence prompted security forces to swiftly evacuate Mr Macron from the building, rushing him out to a black car under a hail of boos.
He has been attending the packed Paris theatre close to the Eurostar, reportedly with his wife Brigitte, when the protest took place.
Around 30 demonstrators tried to bulldoze their way inside to reach him.
While police tried to hold back the protesters, several managed to break into the building, amid chants of “Macron, resign!”
It is unclear what the protests would have done if they had reached the French President, amid soaring anger at his controversial pension reforms.
A presidential source confirmed the evacuation but claimed he later returned to the theatre to watch the play – a modernist drama called The Fly.
The source said Mr Macron “will continue to go to the theatre as he usually does and will ensure that political actions do not disturb the freedom of expression, the freedom of artists, and the freedom of creativity”.
It is thought that the protest erupted when Taha Bouhafa, 22, a political activist, tweeted that he was sitting just behind the president at the theatre.
He filmed the French head of state before he urged people to rush in – a remark he was later believed to have been arrested for.
Mr Bouhafa tweeted: “I am currently at the Bouffes du Nord theatre (Metro station, La Chapelle) 3 rows behind the President of the Republic.
“Activists are around the corner and are calling on everyone to come in. Something is brewing. The evening may be hectic.”
Richard Lioger, an MP in Macron’s party, condemned the storming of the theatre as “an unacceptable attempt at intrusion”.
The incident came on the 44th day of strikes aimed at defeating the French Government’s plans to overhaul the country’s pension system.
The weeks of strikes and protests have disrupted public transport, schools, hospitals, courthouses and even opera houses and the Eiffel tower.
The French prime minister said that the SNCF train authority and the RATP, which runs public transport, had lost more than a EUR1bn (GBP852m) since the start of the strike.
Mr Macron’s plan is to replace the current system of 42 different pension regimes with a single, points-based system.