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Protesting French Researchers Fling Shoes

Taking their cue from the angry Iraqi journalist who took aim at then-U.S. president George W. Bush, several hundred French researchers hurled shoes at the Department of Higher Education and Research in Paris to protest hotly contested reforms by research minister Valérie Pécresse. But so far, a call for a national university strike starting this past Monday does not seem to have caught on.

Strike organizers had hoped that French academic life would come to a standstill, and SNESup-FSU, a major trade union in higher education, boasted that at least 45% of classes were affected by the strike on Monday. But press reports suggest a smattering of actions around the country at best, and the government says there have been “limited and sporadic” disruptions so far. Pécresse said Tuesday that she does not plan to budge.

Protests movements in France often gather steam slowly, and organizers are hopeful that a series of local demonstrations tomorrow and a national march in Paris on Tuesday will draw more support. They also hope that student organizations will join the protests next week. The other shoe may yet drop.