Protesters Held As Khatami Ends Paris Trip
PARIS, October 29, 1999 (Reuters) - Dozens of demonstrators protesting against Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's visit to Paris were detained Friday as they played cat and mouse with police, witnesses said.
A Reuters Television cameraman said at least 80 people were bundled into police vans after they unfurled a long ``Down with Khatami'' banner from the top of the towering Arc de Triomphe and blocked traffic on the Champs Elysees.
A policeman said riot police had to remove protesters, mostly Iranian exiles, one after the other as they lay down on the avenue.
Some 10 women were detained after demonstrators burnt an effigy of the Iranian president at a central Paris junction.
Iranian demonstrators said Khatami's car was hit twice by paint-filled eggs Friday, the last day of his three-day visit.
Dodging heavy security, one protester managed to enter the headquarters of UNESCO and throw a tomato at Khatami's car as he left after addressing the organization's general assembly.
At least 200 police threw a cordon around the UNESCO headquarters. All nearby underground train stations were closed to the public through the morning rush hour to stop demonstrators getting close to the building.
Danielle Mitterrand, the widow of former French president Francois Mitterrand and head of the France Libertes human rights group, said she was shocked by the heavy-handed security measures.
``We believe such actions seriously harm democracy in our country,'' she said in a statement.