The French government on Thursday issued a ban on the Uber ride-sharing service a day after the country witnessed violent protests by taxi drivers. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve declared the service unlawful and called on prosecutors and police authorities to close it down.
"The government will never accept the law of the jungle," Cazeneuve said on Thursday evening, Reuters reported.
An estimated 2,800 French taxi drivers blocked roads to the Paris airport, overturned cars and burned tires, demanding that the service -- that launched in 2011 in France -- be banned for creating unfair competition.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls and President Francois Hollande condemned the violence. Hollande said Friday that the demonstrations were "unacceptable violence in a democracy, in a country like France," but added that "UberPOP (the French Uber app) should be dismantled and declared illegal," according to France24.
The Paris police issued an order Friday banning the ride-sharing service from operating in the city, but the San Francisco-based company said it would not comply with the order. “It’s a prefectural decree, we’re going to contest it and see what happens. For the moment, it doesn’t change anything. UberPOP can continue,” Uber's France Director Thibaud Simphal reportedly said on French television on Friday.
Abdelkader Morghad, a French taxi union representative, told Bloomberg that Paris taxi drivers had lost up to 40 percent of their income over the past two years. “Many taxis drivers are infuriated. We’re demanding that the Thevenoud law, which clearly forbids unlicensed drivers, be implemented. There’s a lack of political will to do it,” he reportedly said.
An Uber spokesman, however, refuted the accusation. "There are people who are willing to do anything to stop any competition. We are only the symptom of a badly organized market,” Uber's Thomas Meister said, according to the Independent.
The service was officially declared illegal in January in France, but enforcement against Uber has been lax and the service has continued, according to Agence France-Presse.