French police and anti-virus pass protesters Clash in Paris.
Thousands of people protested on Saturday the special passage of the virus in France with marches through Paris and other French cities. Most of the demonstrations were peaceful, but sporadic clashes with riot police marked the protests in the French capital.
Some 3,000 security forces were deployed around Paris for the third weekend of protests against the pass that will soon be needed to enter restaurants and other venues. The police took posts along the Champs Elysees to protect themselves against an invasion of the famous avenue.
With virus infections on the rise and hospitalizations on the rise, French lawmakers passed a bill requiring the pass in most places as of August 9. Polls show that the majority of French people support the pass, but some strongly oppose it. The pass requires a vaccination or a negative rapid test or proof of a recent recovery from Covid-19 and requires vaccine injections for all healthcare workers by mid-September.
Across the Alps, thousands of anti-vaccine protesters marched in Italian cities such as Rome, Milan, and Naples for the second week in a row. Milan protesters stopped in front of the city’s courthouse chanting “Truth! “Shame!” and “Freedom!” while in Rome they marched behind a banner that read “Resistance.” Those demonstrations were loud but peaceful.
For protesters against the vaccine pass in France, “Liberty” was the slogan of the day. The marches drew some 204,000 people across the country. Some 14,250 people hostile to the passage protested in Paris, several thousand more than a week ago.
Hager Ameur, a 37-year-old nurse, said she quit her job, accusing the government of using a form of “blackmail.”
“I don’t think we should be told what to do,” he told The Associated Press, adding that French medical workers during the first wave of Covid-19 were quite abused. “And now all of a sudden they tell us that if we don’t get vaccinated it’s our fault that people get contaminated. I think it’s disgusting. ”
Tensions flared in front of the famous Moulin Rouge nightclub in northern Paris during what appeared to be the largest demonstration. Lines of police clashed with protesters in close clashes during the march. The police used their fists on several occasions.
As the protesters headed east and some threw objects at the police, the police fired tear gas into the crowd and plumes of smoke filled the sky. A male protester with a bloody head was seen and a police officer was taken away by his colleagues. Three officers were injured, police said, citing the French press. The police, again responding to the rowdy crowds, also pointed a water cannon at the protesters when the march ended in the Bastille.
A quieter march was led by the former senior lieutenant of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who left to form her own little anti-EU party. But the new cause of Florian Philippot, against the passage of the virus, seems much more popular. His contingent of hundreds marched on Saturday to the Health Ministry.
Among those not present this week was Francois Asselineau, leader of another small anti-EU party, the Republican People’s Union, and an ardent activist against the health pass, who contracted COVID-19. In a video on his party’s website, Asselineau, who was not hospitalized, asked people to denounce the “absurd, unjust and totally freedom killer” health pass.
French authorities are implementing the health pass because the highly contagious delta variant is making strong progress. More than 24,000 new cases a day were confirmed Friday night, compared to just a few thousand cases a day at the beginning of the month.
The government’s announcement that the health pass would go into effect on August 9 has prompted many unvaccinated Frenchmen to sign up for vaccinations so that their social lives are not closed during the summer vacation season. Vaccines are now available in a wide variety of places, including some beaches. More than 52% of the French population has been vaccinated.