The interior of the Arc de Triomphe, the 19th-century arch that towers over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the western end of Champs Elysées, was ransacked. The statue of the Marianne, the symbol of the French republic, in display at the entrance of the Arc de Triomphe museum was smashed. A video shared on Facebook shows most of the front of the statue hacked off, while several other men, dressed with yellow vests, are being filmed repeatedly hitting other artefacts with hammers.
While protests degenerated in some places into scenes of destruction and fires, graffiti was scrawled over the Arc, reading “Macron resign” and “the yellow vests will triumph.”
Such was the shock over the desecration of this monument that, on his return from the G20 summit in Argentina, French President Emmanuel Macron went immediately to visit the Arc on Sunday.
The Arc de Triomphe is so revered because it stands over the tomb of the unknown soldier, which commemorates the 1.4 million French soldiers who died during the First World War, covered by a granite slab bearing the statement: “Here rests a French soldier who died for his country, 1914-1918”.
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