In the wake of Canada’s Freedom Convoy vaccine mandate protests, protesters in France are beginning to form a similar convoy although authorities in Paris have already said they would not be allowed to enter the city.
“Dozens of trucks and vehicles left southern France on Wednesday and headed for Paris as part of a convoy opposing the country’s vaccination pass program, a direct reverberation of the trucker-led protests that have engulfed Canada’s capital for nearly two weeks,” The New York Times reported.
The protesters have adopted the name “Convoi de la Liberté,” and include those in cars and on motorcycles. On Thursday and Friday, other convoys are expected to depart as well from other parts of France.
“We are just tired of it all. We want to go where we want without being asked for a vaccine pass. At least with this action, I am doing something,” truck driver Nicolas Bourrat told Reuters.
The massive trucker protest that has clogged up Ottawa, Canada, is credited for inspiring France’s “Freedom Convoy.” Many of the protesters, who left Nice on Wednesday, were waving Canadian flags.
Originally, plans for France’s Freedom Convoy involved driving to Paris, however authorities in the French capital have already said that protesters would not be allowed in the city.
“The Paris prefecture said the protesters would be prohibited from entering the capital from Feb. 11-14, citing the risk of public disorder,” Reuters reported. Protesters also said that they wanted to go to Brussels, Belgium, where the European Union is located.
The official Facebook page for the protest has already amassed around 350,000 members. Early reports note that the initial convoy left Nice had about 200 members. Maps and rendezvous points were also shared on a 25,000 group Telegram chat according to the Times.
Freedom Convoy-like protests have also begun in Australia and New Zealand. Protests in Canberra, Australia have lasted over a week according to The Washington Post.
One Australian senator, who was born in America, claimed that protesters “want to undermine and overturn democracy.”
Craig Kelly, a member of the right-wing United Australia Party and an Australian representative, allowed several protesters into the capitol to discuss their views.
“I thought these people deserved the chance to get their demands delivered directly to the prime minister and opposition leader, so I was more than happy to facilitate that,” Kelly said.
In Wellington, New Zealand protests have grown contentious with minor squabbles between police and protesters. So far over 50 protesters have been arrested by the police.
“Roads are blocked in the city, businesses have had to shut, people felt threatened and intimidated by some of the protesters,” Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said on a radio show.
One protestor from Auckland said that he believed the protests would stay peaceful.
“We’re here as long as it takes,” Sel Currie said. “It feels like the police are trying to incite violence but it won’t come from us.”