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Thousands of protesters fought with police in Paris today as protests against a vaccine passport took place across France.
About 150 separate events were staged in major towns and villages after the government used emergency powers to put in place new anti-coronavirus measures.
In early Saturday afternoon, charges of tear gas and batons were used against violent groups in Paris.
Four steps descended on the Place de la Bastille, where water cannons and squads of gendarmes and riot police were waiting for them.
“Some of the marches are illegal and they are joined by anarchist groups not directly linked to the protest,” an officer said at the scene.
More than 160,000 people marched in Paris and other major cities to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s vaccination campaign last weekend, and a similar number was expected this Saturday.
Many protests have been organized by the so-called Gilets Jaunes, or the anti-government movement of Gilets Jaunes.
Named after their distinctive fluorescent jackets, they have sparked a series of riots in cities like Paris over the past three years.
Mr. Macron’s decision three weeks ago to overcome the reluctance of millions of French people by forcing them to vaccinate is supported by up to 65% of the population, according to polls.
Anti-vaccines took to the streets of Paris today to protest the anti-virus passports that will be needed to enter the premises
CRS riot police charge protesters on the sidelines of a demonstration as part of a day of protest against French law
An emergency bill imposing the health pass for access to cafes, restaurants, shopping centers, trains and long-distance buses was passed by parliament last week and will come into force on Monday.
But the measures sparked anger from a minority, channeling hostility towards the president.
White-coated anti-vaccine health workers were among those leading the crowds today.
Polls show a majority of French people support the pass, but some French people categorically oppose it and photos from the French capital show thousands of anti-vaccines protesting across the city this afternoon.
The pass requires vaccinations or a rapid negative test or proof of a recent recovery from COVID-19 and makes it mandatory to vaccinate all healthcare workers by mid-September.
A protester holds a banner stating “it’s our choice” during a national day of protest against compulsory vaccination against Covid-19 for some workers and the compulsory use of the health pass requested by the French government in Paris
Protesters gather at Villiers metro station, northwest of Paris, on a national day of protest against the compulsory Covid-19 vaccination for some workers and the compulsory use of the health pass demanded by the French government
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Protesters hold up banners and placards, one of which reads “The 4th wave is us”, during a national day of protest
Police arrest man during clashes at the end of a demonstration as part of a national day of protest against French law making a Covid-19 health pass compulsory to visit certain places and also making jabs compulsory for healthcare workers
Four separate protests took place in Paris on Saturday, with “liberty” the slogan of the day and marches were also called in other cities in France.
Participants in the previous weekend’s two protests included far-right activists and hardline protesters in yellow vests as well as others who believe the health pass limits their freedom.
Police sporadically used water cannons and tear gas to deter violence, including after some protesters moved to the Arc de Triomphe, at the top of the Champs-Elysées.
Among those absent this week is François Asselineau, leader of the small anti-EU party of the Popular Republican Union and an ardent activist against the health pass, who caught COVID-19.
In a video posted on his party’s website, Asselineau, who was not hospitalized, called on the population to denounce the “absurd, unfair and totally freedom-killer” health pass.
The French authorities are implementing the health pass because the highly contagious delta variant is making a big breakthrough.
Legislation passed by Parliament the previous week sparked mass protests in France, but the government is determined to move forward and make the health pass a key part of the fight against Covid-19. Pictured: Protesters clash with police
Protesters hold a banner that reads “My body is mine. Tyranny of the health pass – No thanks’, during a day of protest
More than 24,000 new cases a day were confirmed as of Friday evening – up from just a few thousand cases a day earlier this month.
The announcement by the government of the entry into force of the health pass on August 9 after approval by the Constitutional Council has prompted many unvaccinated French people to be vaccinated so that their social life is not interrupted during the summer holidays. .
The vaccines are now available in a wide variety of places, including some beaches.
Over the past month, anti-Vaxxers have sent death threats to six MPs from Mr Macron’s En Marche party, and five vaccination centers have been vandalized,
Jean Castex, the French Prime Minister, warned that the state would be “uncompromising in the event of violence” during the protests.
Those involved in the anti-vaccine movement include Marine Le Pen, presidential candidate and leader of the far-right Rassemblement National.
A protester waves a French flag on a national day of protest against new coronavirus legislation approved this week
Protester holds up sign reading “Health Terror, I Will Not Submit” on National Day of Protest
Pictured: A protester holds a banner reading ‘we are not guinea pigs’ during a national day of protest
Pictured: A protester holds up a banner stating “no to health dictatorship, neither vaccinated nor lobotomized”
She called Mr. Macron’s approach to the health emergency “brutal” and a violation of individual rights.
The far left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the France Unbowed party, has also taken up the anti-vaccination cause.
More than 47% of French people are now fully vaccinated, a jump of six points since Mr. Macron announced the new vaccination pass.
More than 52% of the French population has been vaccinated while more than 111,800 people have died from the virus in France since the start of the pandemic.