For the third week in a row, anti-vaccine and anti-health pass demonstrations continued in France amid rising COVID-19 infection rates.
Saturday’s protests, according to the Interior Ministry, saw an estimated 184 rallies with 204,090 demonstrators across the country, a figure higher than the previous weeks.
In Paris alone, where at least four rallies were held, nearly 14,250 people marched to oppose the new health restrictions in public and social places introduced by the government for the unvaccinated people. At least 19 people were arrested including 10 in Paris, the ministry said.
The developments of increasing participation in the anti-health measures come in the backdrop of the government’s warning of a fourth wave and rising virus cases across the country. There were 23,471 new cases and 43 related deaths in the last 24 hours.
In Marseille, angry protesters attacked journalists from France 3 and BFMTV whereas in Paris two AFP reporters filming the rallies were targeted with insults and spitting, according to reports by BFMTV news.
At other places, protesters threw objects, stones at the police force and tried to light fires in trash cans. In return, police fired tear gas and water cannons at the crowd to disperse them.
In Paris, the situation became tense late evening as at least three policemen were injured during clashes, Franceinfo reported. The police used tear gas and water cannons at Place de la Republique, wounding some protesters.
The government has declared its intention to implement the new health law from Aug. 9. The law greenlighted by the parliament last week includes provisions of compulsory vaccination for healthcare professionals and isolation for COVID-19 patients along with extension of health pass for entry into places such as restaurants, cafes, and long-distance transport.
The government is awaiting final clearance from the country’s highest constitutional authority, the Constitutional Council, on whether the law oversteps the limits of public freedom.
Opposition leaders took to Twitter, calling the Macron administration to take note of the growing protests.
Socialist politician and leader of France Insoumise party Jean-Luc Melenchon said the health pass was a "false good idea" and the demonstrations must be “understood and respected.”
Far right leader of National Rally, Marine Le Pen, said: “The government must listen to the legitimate concern expressed both on the effectiveness and on the infringements of liberty and equality,” over the health pass. She urged that “there is still time to take a step back.”Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.