Protests were witnessed across France on July 17 over Emmanuel Macron-led government’s latest measures to push people to get COVID-19 vaccination and stem the drastic surge of coronavirus infections. As per reports, over 100,000 people demonstrated in France with separate protests by the far-right and the far-left in Paris. Reportedly, protests were also held in Strasbourg in the east, Lille in the north, Montpellier in the south and elsewhere. Scores of people acted upon the calls to flood the streets by Florian Philippot, a fringe far-right politician and former right hand of Marine Le Pen. Philippot also announced earlier this month that he would run in the 2022 presidential election.
Protesters chanted “Macron, clear off!”, “Freedom,” while banging metal spoons on saucepans. Philippot has been organising small but regular protests against the French government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Saturday demonstrations witnessed a larger and diverse crowd who were seen broadly disaffected with politics. Majorly, they denounced the government’s decision announced on Monday to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all healthcare workers and to require a “health pass” as proof that the individual is fully vaccinated, have tested negative of coronavirus infection or recovered from one in order to get entry to the restaurants along with other public places.
As per The Associated Press, a Bruno Auquier, a 53-year-old town councillor who lives on the outskirts of Paris said, “I will never get vaccinated...People need to wake up” further questioning the safety of the jabs. While France already requires several vaccinations to enter public school, Auquier vowed that he would take his two children out of the educational institute if jabs are made compulsory. He reportedly said, “These new measures are the last straw.”
However, during a visit to a pop-up vaccination centre in the southwest, French Prime Minister Jean Castex exhorted the entire country to remain united to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. He reportedly, “There is only one solution: vaccination” laying emphasis that it “protects us, and will make us freer.”