Revisiting France's 1968 Riots

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.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

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

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

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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