PARIS : THOUSANDS took the streets across France on Saturday to demand the government abandon a contentious new security law, in a controversy intensified by the beating and racial abuse of a black man by police officers that shocked the country.

The demonstrations against the security law - which would restrict the right of the press to broadcast images of police officers' faces - took place nationwide with the Central Place de La Republicque in Paris filled to the seams despite the coronavirus pandemic.

President Emmanuel Macron said late on Friday that the images of the beating of black music producer Michler Zecler ''shame us''. The incident had magnified concerns about alleged systemic racism in police force.

''Police everywhere, Justice nowhere'' and ''police state'' and ''smile while you are beaten'' were among the slogans brandished by protesters in the crammed Paris square.

The Paris authorities had demanded that organisers limit the rally to a single location, but on Friday evening officials authorised a march from Palace de Ia Republique to the nearby Place de La Bastille.

An investigation has opened against the four police involved but commentators say that the images -first published by Loopsider news site - may never have been made public if the contentious Article 24 of the security legislation was made law.

The article would criminalise the publication of images of on-duty police officers with the intent of harming their ''physical or psychological integrity''. It was passed by the National Assembly although it is awaiting Senate approval.

Under the article, offenders could be sentenced up to a year in jail, and fined 45,000 euros [$53,000] for sharing images of police officers.

The images of the beating of Zecler emerged days after the police were already under fire over the forcible removal of a migrant camp in central Paris. [AFP]


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