18:22 GMT23 January 2021
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    Local authorities claim the bit of political theatre staged by protesters could be classified as a criminal offence.

    French authorities opened a probe into a performance during which an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron was beheaded by Yellow Vest protesters in the city of Angouleme, Charente, on December 21, the day the president celebrated his 41st birthday.

    During the performance, protesters dragged a human-sized doll with an eyeless effigy of Macron attached to its head onto a sports field. A man dressed as an executioner then entered the arena and beheaded the doll with a large axe. Following the mock execution, the doll's head — with the effigy still in place — was placed on a spike. The remainder of the doll was reportedly burned.

    Photos of the performance immediately became viral across French media and social media, catching the attention of authorities.

    Officials representing the Charente prefecture on Saturday reacted to the performance with outrage, stating: "These events seriously affect both the person and the function of the President of the Republic."

    ​The performance is "likely to be classified as criminal," a prefecture official tweeted.

    Shortly thereafter, a criminal probe was opened into the event, confirmed by regional prosecutor Jean-David Cavaillé. According to Cavaillé, the act has been classified as a "provocation to crime and contempt."

    The performance met mixed reactions on social media, with many arguing that the yellow vest protest movement has "degenerated" and is becoming "illegal."

    On Friday, the French Senate backed a draft law on emergency economic and social measures declared by authorities in response to the Yellow Vest protests. The proposed measures include annual bonuses for employees and exemptions from increased social security tax for pensioners who earn less than 2,000 euros (over $2,200) per month.


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