On Sunday, French protesters pelted Stephane Claireaux, a member of the French parliament, with seaweed and dirt in protest of his support for France’s “health pass,” the vaccine passport required as part of the European nation’s plan to battle COVID-19. Under current law, French citizens must show proof they have received the COVID-19 vaccine or have a negative test to enter certain public spaces. The incident occurred right outside Claireaux’s home on the island of Saint-Pierre-and-Miquelon, a French territory off the coast of Newfoundland.
While the health pass has been in place in mainland France for quite some time, the requirement will begin on Saint-Pierre-and-Miquelon later this week.
Claireaux told media that he went outside to his porch to address protesters gathered outside his home, but shortly into his conversation with the crowd, the protesters began flinging seaweed and dirt at him.
“There was a car loaded with seaweed… and people started chucking it at me. It was like being stoned,” he said. “My wife came out to join me on the front step. I dodged a rock that missed our faces by five centimeters.”
“People are free to think that we’re not making the right decisions. We’re all getting death threats by email. At some point this has to stop,” he added.
The incident can be seen here:
Protesters show their displeasure with vaccine passports by throwing dirt on French Member of Parliament Stéphane Claireaux outside his home on the island of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. pic.twitter.com/H9JDlTZK8I
— The Vigilant Fox (@VigilantFox) January 10, 2022
The minister for relations with parliament Marc Fesneau told the media that it was “quite horrifying” and a “further level of violence against elected officials.”
“We have to condemn such attacks because, in the end, it’s totalitarianism if you subject local or national elected officials to physical pressure … That’s not acceptable in a democracy,” Fesneau said.
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly said that the intent of his COVID-19 restrictions was to “piss off” the “anti-vaxxers.” It is speculated that demonstrators used those words as fuel for the attack against Claireaux, who is a member of Macron’s political party.
“Some anti-vaxxers use the president’s provocative statements to justify their violence. But nothing can justify it. These acts are deeply shocking, especially outside a family’s private home,” Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure said in response.
Just this weekend, more than 100,000 people across the country protested a potential new rule which would not allow for French citizens to show a negative test for access to public venues. Critics say the bill would effectively ban non-vaccinated citizens from public life, the BBC reported:
The government says it expects the new rules to come into force on 15 January, although the opposition-dominated Senate could delay the process.
But demonstrators on Saturday accused the government of trampling on their freedoms and treating citizens unequally.
Others targeted their anger at the president, Emmanuel Macron, over comments he made earlier this week in relation to unvaccinated citizens,telling Le Parisian newspaper that he wanted to “piss them off.”
One protester, hospital administrator Virginie Hoguet, told the Reuters news agency that Mr. Macron’s remarks were “the last straw.”
And in Paris, where some 18,000 people marched against the new law, demonstrators responded to his coarse language by chanting: “We’ll piss you off.”