PARIS, April 6 ― A “dirty and ugly” urban centre spoiled by rubbish piling up and flotsam floating in the water? Or still the City of Light boldly dealing with modern metropolitan problems?
A viral hashtag has in recent days sought to rally Parisians' anger on what some residents see as an unacceptably dirty city, a far cry from the romantic image of the French capital promoted in books and films.
The hashtag ― #saccageparis (trashed Paris) ― has seen residents bombard Twitter with photos of grim Paris scenes in a drive that the city hall, run by Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo, has denounced as a “smear campaign”.
“Like all cities in France, Paris is faced with incivility and problems of regulating public space,” the city hall said in a statement on Twitter, accusing users of posting pictures before cleaning teams had intervened.
It noted too that numbers on the city's cleaning teams were down by around 10 percent due to Covid cases or self-isolation forced by contacts.
“The City of Paris is the target of a smear campaign via #saccageparis,” it said.
Many Twitter users lashed out at Hidalgo ― who analysts think could be mulling a crack at the French presidency in 2022 ― as they denounced a “rubbish tip city” that had been left to “abandon”.
Right-wingers denounce mayor
Her right-wing opponents on the city council seized on the debate, urging an exceptional meeting of the body to discuss the cleanliness of Paris.
“It is time for Mrs Hidalgo and her allies to open their eyes to the decline of Paris,” said former minister Rachida Dati, who unsuccessfully stood against Hidalgo in last year's elections and heads the city's 7th district.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen added in a tweet that the “degradation of our beautiful capital by the Hidalgo team is a national trauma which cannot leave any French person indifferent”.
The viral trend was started by an anonymous Twitter user @PanamePropre who said “we no longer accept a Paris that has become dirty and ugly.”
The user wrote that when the #saccageparis hashtag campaign was started “I never thought it would take on this scale.”
“Yet it is not so surprising. The current disaster cannot continue without a massive reaction. We are thousands to say STOP! Behind this hashtag... there are just ordinary locals.” ― ETX Studio