With cries of “Freedom, freedom!”, Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in the streets of France on Saturday, noted AFP journalists. They are opposed to the extension of the health pass and compulsory vaccination for certain professions.
The police estimated the number of demonstrators at 11,000 in Paris and nearly 150,000 in rallies in a hundred cities, including Marseille (south), where thousands of people of all ages marched to cries of “Macron , your pass, we don’t want it “.
In Paris, a procession essentially made up of “yellow vests”, a protest movement hostile to the government’s social policy, marched from the Place de la Bastille, in the south-east of the capital. Sporadic incidents pitted police officers on motorcycles with protesters, AFP journalists reported.
Several thousand other people, rarely masked, gathered to the sound of the national anthem, the Marseillaise, on the Place du Trocadéro, in the west of Paris, at the call of the former MEP for far right Florian Philippot.
“I am not your guinea pig”
“Liberty, liberty” chanted the demonstrators, from Paris and the provinces, gathered around a platform surrounded by dozens of blue-white-red French flags. “Freedom, I am not your guinea pig,” summed up a slogan carried on a sign.
In a tweet, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin reported “9 individuals arrested” in Paris, where incidents took place near the Champs-Elysées. “I condemn, he added, with the greatest firmness the violent behavior which targeted certain police officers, gendarmes and journalists”.
This movement comes as the French say they are overwhelmingly in favor of the decision taken on July 12 by President Emmanuel Macron to make vaccination compulsory for caregivers and other professions under penalty of sanctions. The extension of the health pass (complete vaccination or recent negative test) to most public places also receives a majority of approvals, according to a survey published the day after these announcements.
Already applied in cultural and leisure venues, this health pass should be extended in early August to cafes, restaurants and trains. The announcement of the new measures by Emmanuel Macron had the effect of accelerating vaccination in France: 39 million people, or 58% of the total population, had received at least one dose on Friday, and 48% are fully vaccinated.
Explosion of cases
But after a reflux of the epidemic in the spring, the number of contaminations exploded in France under the effect of the Delta variant, highly contagious, going from 4,500 on July 9 to nearly 21,500 on Friday. The epidemic has killed more than 110,000 people in France to date, according to the official site santepubliquefrance.fr.
Opposition to government measures federates anti-mask, anti-vaccine or anti-containment demonstrators with protean demands. Last Saturday, more than 110,000 people demonstrated across the country against vaccination, the “dictatorship” or the health pass.