French police clashed with anti-virus pass protesters in Paris

Paris (Associated Press)-Thousands of people marched in Paris and other French cities on Saturday to protest against France’s special virus pass. Most of the demonstrations were peaceful, but sporadic clashes with riot police marked the protests in the French capital.

About 3,000 security forces were deployed on the third weekend around Paris to protest the pass, which will soon be required to enter restaurants and other places. The police set up an outpost on the Champs Elysées to prevent this famous avenue from being invaded.

With the surge in the number of virus infections and the rise in hospitalizations, French legislators passed a bill on August 9 requiring most places to pass the bill. Opinion polls show that most French people support the bill, but some people firmly oppose it. The pass requires vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of recent recovery from COVID-19, and requires all healthcare workers to be vaccinated by mid-September.

Across the Alps, thousands of demonstrators against vaccine passes marched in Italian cities such as Rome, Milan and Naples for the second week in a row. Demonstrators in Milan stopped outside the city’s court and chanted “Truth! “Shame! “And “Freedom! While in Rome, they marched behind banners marked “Resistance.” Those demonstrations were noisy but calm.

For French anti-vaccine pass demonstrators, “Iiberty” was the slogan at the time. The parade attracted about 204,000 people across the country. Approximately 14,250 people protested against the pass in Paris, and there were thousands a week ago.

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 during the first wave of COVID-19, French medical staff 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.

When the marchers marched east and some people threw objects at the police, the police fired tear gas at the crowd, and smoke filled the sky. A male protester bled on the head and a policeman was carried away by a colleague. French media quoted the police as saying that three policemen were injured. When the march ended in the Bastille, the police once again reacted to the noisy crowd and fired water cannons on the protesters.

The former high-ranking lieutenant of the far-right leader Marina Le Pen led a calmer march. Le Pen left to form his own small anti-EU party. But Florian Philippot’s new business, fighting the spread of the virus, seems more popular. His team of hundreds marched to the Ministry of Health on Saturday.

Among those who did not attend this week was Francois Asselineau, the leader of another small anti-EU party, the People’s Republican Party, who is an enthusiastic activist against the health pass who has contracted COVID-19. In a video on the party’s website, Arcelino, who was not hospitalized, called on people to condemn health passes that were “ridiculous, unjust and completely stifling freedom.”

French authorities are implementing health passes because the highly contagious delta variant is making strong progress. More than 24,000 new daily cases were confirmed on Friday night, compared to only a few thousand a day at the beginning of this month.

The government’s announcement that the health pass will take effect on August 9 has prompted many unvaccinated French people to sign up for vaccinations to prevent their social life from being shut down during the summer vacation. Vaccinations are now available in many places, including some beaches. More than 52% of the French population has been vaccinated.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, approximately 112,000 people have died from the virus in France.

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Patrick Hermanson and Michele Euler of Paris contributed.

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Follow all the Associated Press stories about the global pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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