Notre Dame’s flames prompt protests over inequality
The bells of Notre Dame are silent. The city of Paris is mourning the devastating fire that scorched the historic cathedral and left the famous spire crumbling to the ground. The twin towers of the church stand tall but cast a shadow on the city of Paris, which is struggling to grasp the reality of this catastrophe.
Last Monday evening marked the near death of the epitome of French history. While officials say the building is structurally sound and salvageable, investigators are searches for signs as to what caused the blaze.
Over the past week, the French Heritage Foundation, or the Fondation du Patrimoine, created a fundraiser to collect donations for Notre Dame’s restoration. As of Easter Sunday, over $17 million euros had been raised across the globe in this effort alone. This is one of many individual donations and fundraising sites established both in Europe and the United States. As of April 17, over $700 million had been collected.
Despite the success of this campaign, flames again consumed Paris as the yellow vests took to the streets in protest of the fundraising. According to NPR, this group is composed of mostly rural, working and middle class individuals who originally rallied behind high fuel costs. As the movement grew, protesters fought and continue to push for increased equality and better standards of living.
According to the New York Times, the overwhelming donations for the damaged cathedral has incited protesters to seek to address rising inequality in the French nation.
“I think what happened at Notre-Dame is a great tragedy,” protestor Jose Fraile said. “But humans should be more important than stone.”
Protestors flooded the streets, sparking riots, teargas and fires throughout the city. Yet this protest was not isolated to Paris. Throughout the social media world, hundreds of users have commented in agreement with the motivation of the protests.
“This perfectly sums up my feelings about the Notre Dame Cathedral fire,” one user posted. “Yes it’s tragic but I’m shocked that so much money is going towards it being rebuilt when that money isn’t going towards other tragedies.”
Others took a more poignant approach in their posts.
“Now imagine what USEFUL things the money could go to,” another user wrote. “Clean water, food for the homeless. Oh a building? Oh ok. That’s cool. Got your priorities set straight there. No worries.”
This cathedral has political, cultural, religious, technological and social significance. It is more than a church. It is living, breathing history that has played a dominant role in the lives and hearts of the French for centuries. However, many in France and across the world believe there are bigger issues that need funds more than the crumbled piece of history.
“The world places too much energy into icons and symbols,” a Facebook user said. “It’s sad.”
The Notre Dame fire has caused mass devastation in France via the flames and the ashes. As protestors speak out against inequality in France, both the problems within France and the cathedral will take time to restore.
By Maddie Coggins