French police clashed with protesters against COVID in Paris | Coronavirus pandemic news
Thousands of people protested in Paris and other French cities against the mandatory coronavirus health passes introduced by the government in the fight against the fourth wave of infections to enter various public places.
On Saturday, about 3,000 security forces were deployed around the French capital for the third weekend of protests against the need for passes to enter restaurants and other places. The police set up an outpost on the Champs Elysées in Paris to prevent violent demonstrators from invading this famous avenue.
Most of the demonstrations were peaceful, but some of the demonstrations in Paris clashed with riot police who fired tear gas.
“We are creating an apartheid society, and I think it is incredible to do so in a human rights country,” Anne, a teacher demonstrating in Paris, told Reuters. She refused to reveal her last name.
“So I took to the streets; I have never protested in my life. I think our freedom is in danger.”
With the surge in the number of virus infections and the rise in hospitalizations, French legislators have passed a bill requiring passage in most places as of August 9.
Opinion polls show that most French people support the passage, but some French people firmly oppose it.
The pass requires vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of recent recovery from COVID-19, and requires all health care workers to be vaccinated by mid-September.
For the anti-pass demonstrators, “freedom” was the slogan of the time.
Hager Ameur, a 37-year-old nurse, said she quit her job and accused the government of using some form of “blackmail.”
“I don’t think we can be told what to do,” she told the Associated Press, adding that the medical staff during the first wave of COVID-19 suffered considerable abuse. “Now, suddenly we are told that if we don’t get vaccinated, it’s our fault that people are contaminated. I think it’s disgusting.”
The famous Moulin Rouge nightclub in northern Paris seemed to be the largest demonstration, and tensions escalated. During the march, the police confronted the protesters at close range. The police used their fists many times.
As the marchers marched east, the police fired tear gas into the crowd, and smoke filled the sky. A male protester was seen bleeding on the head in the chaos.
Ulrich Bruckner, a professor of European studies at Stanford University in Berlin, said that there are reasons to “worry [over COVID restrictions], But there are different ways of expression”.
“On the one hand, the most important thing is that every citizen can take advantage of his and her freedoms, including freedom of speech and freedom of demonstration,” Bruckner told Al Jazeera.
“On the other hand, if these freedoms are used against the system, the country needs to protect itself and the system by restricting these freedoms,” he said.
“And we have seen many well-planned attempts to disrupt the country or anger the police, which is why the demonstrations in Berlin today have been cancelled, because it is clear that this is not free speech, but angering the police,” he said. Add to.
As far as the motive of the protest is concerned, Bruckner said that the French believe that the implementation of the new rules violates equality.
“[In] Especially in France, people read [these rules] As a violation of equality…no one becomes a second-class citizen because she or he decides not to be vaccinated,” he added.
Paul Brennan of Al Jazeera said that the people on the streets of France “are a small part of the population, but they have a good say.”
“Some people are against the risk of blood clots caused by vaccines. Others don’t mind vaccines, but they don’t like being told what to do, and they don’t like being forced to vaccinate,” Brennan said.
“[But] It seems that President Macron is winning this battle with the French public. Three weeks ago, just over 40% of the public received these two vaccines. The latest data I saw from yesterday is now as high as 52%, so although people reluctantly decided to jab, the number has increased by 12%,” he added.
A police spokesperson told Reuters that the police estimated that about 13,500 people were demonstrating on the streets of Paris.
Approximately 3,000 police officers were deployed in the capital, and riot police worked hard to keep demonstrators on authorized routes.
Last week, police and demonstrators clashed on the Champs Elysées, and the authorities tried to avoid a repeat.
Protesters are also in other cities such as Marseille, Lyon, Montpellier, Nantes and Toulouse, chanting “Freedom!” and “Say no to the health pass!”
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 111,800 people in France have died from the coronavirus.