Macron calls for unity after anti-vaccine protests in France – .

Macron calls for unity after anti-vaccine protests in France – .

PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron has called for national unity and mass vaccination to fight the resurgence of the virus, and lambasted those who fuel anti-vaccine sentiment and protests.

About 160,000 people demonstrated across France on Saturday against a special COVID-19 pass for restaurants and mandatory vaccinations for health workers. Many demonstrators shouted “freedom! And said the government shouldn’t tell them what to do.

Visiting a hospital in French Polynesia on Saturday evening, Tahiti time, Macron asked: “What is your freedom worth if you tell me ‘I don’t want to be vaccinated’, but tomorrow you infect your father, your mother or me- same ?

While he said the protesters are “free to express themselves calmly and respectfully,” he said the protests will not make the coronavirus go away.

“I want to make a call for unity,” he said. He criticized “people who engage in an irrational, sometimes cynical, manipulative mobilization” against vaccination. Among those who organized the protests are far-right politicians and extremist members of the French yellow vest movement who have exploited anger against Macron’s government.

More than 111,000 people with the virus have died in France, which records around 20,000 new infections per day against only a few thousand at the start of the month. Concerns about hospitals are resurfacing.

Overnight, French Senate lawmakers passed a bill authorizing COVID-19 passes in all French restaurants and places and mandatory vaccines for health workers. But they have made so many changes to the version passed by the lower house that the bill must now go to a joint committee later on Sunday to try to find a compromise version.


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