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France’s anti-vax movement turns nasty

A woman holds a yellow star reading 'non vaccinated'. July 17th 2021 (Photo by Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

July 20, 2021 - 3:25pm

In the name of freedom, French anti-vaccine militants have attacked two vaccination centres in recent days, burning one to the ground.

In the name of freedom, more than 100,000 people demonstrated in 130 towns last Saturday.

In the name of freedom, some of the demonstrators wore yellow stars of David or carried banners in which President Emmanuel Macron was depicted with a Hitler moustache. The suggestion that vaccination, forced or otherwise, can be compared to the Holocaust has  caused widespread consternation in France — and not just amongst French Jews.

The protests last weekend included an extraordinary coalition of the usual suspects of French street politics from the far-Left to the far-Right and from the stubborn rump of the Gilets Jaunes anti-Macron movement of 2018-9.

Other demonstrators — many others — self-identified themselves as being non-political people: restaurant owners, nurses, care-workers all infuriated by Macron’s decision to make vaccination against Covid-19 compulsory for health workers and necessary from August 1st for access to bars, restaurants cinemas and long-haul trains and buses.

Further manifs (demos) are expected next weekend. The numbers involved so far are small — by French standards — but they are still much higher than the government expected. They may grow. Alternatively, they may fade away as holiday season advances.

The two attacks on rural vaccination centres — one in a marquee at Urrugne in the western Pyrenees was entirely destroyed — are isolated incidents so far. There have also been attacks on the constituency offices of leading pro-Macron politicians and threats of violence against pro-vax politicians on line.

It is important to bear in mind that the great majority of French people — 60 to 70%  according to opinion polls — approve Macron’s decision last week to make France’s voluntary vaccination programme much less voluntary. From mid-September health and care workers face suspension and then dismissal if they fail to get vaccinated. From 1 August, access to most forms of fun as well as long-distance travel will require a “health pass”, indicating full vaccination or a recent negative test.

Macron justified this decision with two sets of figures. Firstly, a spike in Covid patients driven by the Delta variant threatens to cause a fourth wave of the pandemic, potentially as quickly as by the middle of next month. Secondly, the French vaccination programme, after a strong recovery from a slow start, has slumped, mostly because of lack of demand from young people in their 20s and 30s.

It is important to keep a sense of perspective in light of these protests. The great majority of French people have reacted positively to Macron’s ‘big stick’ legislative changes. Yes, over 100,000 people demonstrated last weekend — but around 6,000,000 people have signed up for their first jabs since Macron announced the policy on Monday of last week.

The manifs are respectable enough (Holocaust references apart). Anti-vaccine arguments are acceptable — even necessary — in a democracy, self-righteous and conspiracy-obsessed though they may sometimes be. However, the increasing turn towards violence amongst the vaccine-skeptical is a disturbing development. Macron must act now to punish those responsible, before the situation escalates out of control.


John Lichfield was Paris correspondent of The Independent for 20 years. Half-English and half-Belgian, he was born in Stoke-on-Trent and lives in Normandy.

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David Slade
David Slade
3 years ago

I don’t understand the implied contempt in the comment about how, in the name of freedom, 100,000 people demonstrated in 130 towns. Why does this appear in the author’s article alongside arson and insensitivity towards Jewish survivors – both of which he correctly identified as outrageous?

Surely the protests are perfectly legitimate expressions of dissent in a democratic society?

Also, not sure Macron needs any further encouragement to punish his fellow countrymen (last paragraph), he seems perfectly ok with it.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

“Surely the protests are perfectly legitimate expressions of dissent in a democratic society?”
The final paragraph says exactly this.

David Slade
David Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

He back tracks slightly and concedes argument is to be expected (my cup runeth over!), Although he clearly condescends those who do so. However the implication of his opening tirade is that he considers actual protest to be beyond the pale.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

His opening tirade is about protesters burning down vaccination centres, and comparing vaccination with the Holocaust, not about actual protest being beyond the pale.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

Bret Weinstein, Unherd’s very own covid questioner (and disaster porn author here too) did a long interview with Tucker Carlson (of Fox) that was very typical of him where he mostly wanders off into the long grass to wrack himself, and the Ultra Liberal beliefs he holds, with angst after he ran up against the concrete wall of reality – at Evergreen. (he fell afowl of the very Racial Industrial Complex his beliefs and ilk created)
But in this linked video he spends some time talking of issues that matter first, covid, and even gets to the point he says the Medical Industrial Complex is manipulating the entire covid response for greater $$$$, and at a vast harm to the public, although he mentions this may not be an intentional conspiracy, but merely how the marketing machine they have in place takes over… (yea right, but must be said unless one wants to meet them in court)

Bret refuses the vaccine! So does his wife and children, wow – and he is a scientist, wow – and tells why…

Anyway, a must watch on how covid is not at all as it is presented by the Government and pharma industries – Bret has thousands of house of covid stuff – enough he is kicked off youtube pretty much now… (They ‘Demonetized Him’ meaning the large amounts he was paid by Youtube advertisers has been stopped! – in a situation exactly like Mary wrote of here today)

Search under Bret Weinstein, Tucker Carlson, youtube. I link below as I find links get me ‘Awaiting for Approval’

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas
David Slade
David Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Thanks for the link; fascinating interview.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

CRAZY Stuff, isn’t it. To sum it up he is saying Ivermectin has a large success at both preventing, and curing covid – BUT!!!! The medical industrial Complex has blocked ANY studies on Ivermectin because if it was scientifically shown to work against covid the Vaccines would lose their license, and be banned.

See, the vaccines were given special licence to be used before full trials as there was NO known other treatment. If a treatment is scientifically found then the vaccines will lose their emergency license and 2 more years of trials would have to finish.

The Ivermectin (search Dr Campbell on youtube for the world’s most favorite doctor, who believes in Ivermectin) studies have since all been stopped – and CDC, WHO, and every other governing body is colluding to block them – because the Big-Pharma $$$$$$$$$ would all be messed up…..

Wild times.

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Video removed for violating Youtube Community Guidelines.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ray Zacek
David Simpson
David Simpson
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

You can find bret’s stuff on odysee. And you’re totally out of order – he’s a perfectly reasonable left of centre academic who’s highlighting some very important issues with not just the economic drivers of the Vaccine programme , but the really concerning lack of proper public access records on the side effects

Noah Ebtihej Sdiri
Noah Ebtihej Sdiri
3 years ago

A poll with a sample of a 1000 people, hardly representative.
In March 2021, the Conseil Economique, Social et Environnemental, a public agency, organized a consultation about the potential implementation of a health pass. Out of 110 000 respondents (so a MUCH bigger sample than the poll mentioned in the article), 72% were against it.
Macron is playing with fire. He thinks he can get away with anything because he knows he will face Marine Lepen in the second round of the presidential elections. Apparently, he has not learnt a damn thing of the Yellow Vest movement. This is not going to end well for him and France in general.

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
3 years ago

Why is there no more discussion on the origins of the virus? Plenty of Western scientist in a conference call on February 1st, 2020 who must have discussed the origin of the virus. You only have to listen to the hearings of the Republican representatives to realise that the Chinese tried to play God with the financial aid of Daszak et. al. And why would you take a vaccine for a disease which either does not affect you because of your age and/or general constitution or that does not fully protect you from catching the disease again. In fact, that makes you more contageous because of higher viral loads. Corona is a false flag operation in the form of a man made flu. Macron has no justification for mandatory vaccination of healthy people with a stage 3 vaccine. That he married a barren womb does not mean the fertile French women should forego having children. The rethoric is gradually moving in the usual direction. The non-vaccinated will pose a threat to the healthy body of the nation. They will metastasize through the Volk and destroy it, unless our Leaders will stop and utterly destroy them once and for all.

Last edited 3 years ago by Francisco Menezes
Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
3 years ago

“That he married a barren womb does not mean the fertile French women should forego having children. â€œ
I am certainly not a fan of Macron
..but frankly 
.this sentence st
s to high heaven on top of being totally surreal and scientifically total tosh.
I recommend you read Pr Sarah’s Gilbert book “ Vaxxers”. To start with, Pr Gilbert is the mother of triplets she bore rather late in age. These 3 young people ( today in their early 20 ‘s) are perfectly healthy after having received the jab Pr Gilbert gave them during the trials. Given the tone of your post, I can imagine what profanity you are about to write. My advice

.don’t.
In this book that reads like a thriller, you will learn why this vaccine came out so quickly
..and one of the main reason is : while you can spit your verbal bile, scientists are constantly on the look out for threats and just like MI5 doesn’t give you a call when they neutralised a terrorist
..cluster, so do the likes of Sarah Gilbert and colleagues all around the planet
..and that in the aim to keep people like you alive. WHO I learned, has been warning about the “ Big one” no one having a clue of when and how. Wether fiddled by the Chinese or not
..who cares right now when vaccination should be in full swing ? It’ll be found out anyway
.I hope.
I do not like Macron but in this particular case, I totally support his decision. Dictature, nazi régime 
..thank God my mother is no longer here because she could have told you what being in a nazi concentration camp was all about.
Where were all the freedom fighters when we were locked up like rodents in a cage, having to carry silly papers to explain why we were going out, checked by police in a total arbitrary way ?? No more than one km away from home a and no more than one hour a fay to exercise. They were home enjoying the money the state was throwing at us. So Francisco, I suggest you reassess and reformulate your silly and mostly quite insulting prose.

Last edited 3 years ago by Bruno Lucy
Val Colic-Peisker
Val Colic-Peisker
3 years ago

Using the star of David to protest this way can be interpreted differently, not like comparing vaccination with the Holocaust, but: “I’ve been made into a scapegoat in a government-induced panic.” You may like or dislike the French, but they have the right to protest and they use it.