Revisiting France's 1968 Riots

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The current riots are the worst civil unrest France has seen since 1968. Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne report that the 1968 riots began with a series of student demonstrations in Paris.


When people say this is France's worst rioting in decades, they're referring to unrest in 1968. Those disturbances were very different.


Rather than poor neighborhoods, the 1968 unrest started at an elite institution. There was an anti-government rally at France's best-known university, Sorbonne. The demonstration turned violent and police moved in.

MONTAGNE: Soon an alliance of students, labor unions and left-wing political parties held many demonstrations. They protested the US war in Vietnam and the policies of President Charles de Gaulle.

INSKEEP: The government appeared close to falling in 1968, but President de Gaulle appealed to the public, threatened to use military force and survived a vote of confidence.

MONTAGNE: That diffused the crisis. It's unclear what steps the French government will take to diffuse the current situation.

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