Protesters gathered in southern France on Wednesday as part of a so-called “freedom convoy” to reach Paris and Brussels, demanding the lifting of Covid-19-related restrictions.
At least 200 protesters gathered in a car park in Nice, on France’s Mediterranean coast. Many of them are holding Canadian flags in support of truck drivers in Canada who are protesting against restrictions and forced vaccinations against Covid-19, which were imposed by the government of the country. At the same time, thousands of vaccine opponents are saying on social media that they want to “go to Paris” on Saturday.
Calls to organize “Freedom Convoys” appeared on social networks, primarily on Facebook and Telegram. The main group of supporters of the “Convoy of Freedom” on Facebook collected already more than 300 thousand people. At the same time, officials said they wanted to organize a national action for “respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.” In addition, many small groups have appeared on the social network, as well as regional pages where users share the details of the organization of the trip and possible routes. To date, six convoys have been announced, which will depart from Bayonne, Nice, Strasbourg and even Cherbourg.
The protesters are expected to gather in Paris on Friday night, with no specified meeting point. They then plan to travel to Brussels for the “European Rally” on Monday 14 February.
In this context, the protesters in Nice say they intend to go first to Paris, then to Brussels, where the EU institutions are based, to demand, among other things, the lifting of provisions that prevent citizens from accessing public places if they do not have a Covid vaccination certificate. nineteen.
“A lot of people don’t understand why France requires vaccination as a pass,” said the man who helped coordinate the motorcade in Nice and introduced himself as Denny. “Our task is to convey to Europe that the use of a medical passport by 2023 is something that most of our fellow citizens cannot understand,” he added, declining to give his last name.
Not all participants in the mobilization that began in Nice intend to go to Paris or Brussels. The convoy consists mainly of motorcycles and private cars, rather than trucks, as in Canada. How notes Le Figaro, in France, truckers most often do not own trucks, so cars are primarily involved in the campaign.
In France, the Freedom Convoys have been supported by some far-right politicians. In particular, the former associate of Marine Le Pen Florian Filippo and Jean-Frederic Poisson, close to Eric Zemmour. Marine Le Pen herself noted that she “understands” the supporters of the movement, and urged them to vote in the presidential elections.
Members of the French “Freedom Convoy”, heading from Bayonne to Paris. “We are for freedom” – can be read on the poster. February 9, 2022. AFP – GAIZKA IROZ
Authorities vow “toughest possible response” in case of blocking traffic in Paris
The authorities are taking the initiative seriously, a police source told AFP. On BFM TV on Tuesday, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin explainedthat the police and intelligence agencies are ready to “act if some people try to interfere with the freedom of others, especially at the entrances to the capital.” “If this happens, the state’s response will be as tough as possible,” the head of the law enforcement agency warned. According to him, while the French intelligence services do not have data confirming that Saturday’s action will be large-scale, however, the authorities are very “closely” monitoring the development of the situation and will do everything possible to ensure “freedom of movement.”
Trucker protests began in Ottawa on January 29 and completely paralyzed the Canadian capital. The movement, called the Freedom Convoy, arose amid dissatisfaction among Canadian heavy truck drivers over the requirement to undergo a two-week quarantine upon entry from the United States for those who have not been fully vaccinated. The protests quickly spread throughout Canada and escalated into general dissatisfaction with sanitary restrictions.
According to ΑΠΕ – ΜΠΕ, Reuters, AFP