Ahead of the long-awaited verdict of the Constitutional Council on the health pass, its critics have won the bet of an unprecedented national mobilization in the middle of the summer despite the executive’s campaign to minimize their challenge.
Recently reduced by the government spokesperson to “a tiny minority in instrumentalisation”, opponents of the health pass in France beat the pavement in numbers on July 31, in more than 150 cities. According to figures put forward by the Ministry of the Interior, they are more than 200,000 to have marched for this third Saturday of national mobilization, that is to say 80% of demonstrators more than during the day of July 17.
A record in the middle of summer, only five days before the long-awaited verdict of the Constitutional Council which must rule, as its name suggests, on the constitutionality of the text relating to the extension of the health pass in the country.
Demonstrators in the street in the name of “freedom”
Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Nice, Nantes, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Strasbourg … The rallying points concerned dozens of agglomerations as well as municipalities smaller in size, from one end of the territory to the other. Among the most heard slogans, the now famous “Liberty” was at the top. But the slogans also targeted the executive in all its forms, calling in particular for the departure of Emmanuel Macron or the end of the so-called “health dictatorship”.
Beyond the clashes observed in Paris as well as in other large cities at the end of the route, the processions were an opportunity for many demonstrators to express their desire to block a measure already partially applied, including an extension is expected to come into force in less than ten days.
On site, RT France teams had the opportunity to listen to the demands of citizens who had gone to rallying points in the capital. Our reporter Lucas Léger was able to talk to the participants of a demonstration at the start of the Villiers metro, in the north of Paris. Vaccinated or not, the demonstrators he met denounced the policy of the health pass which they considered, among other things, to be responsible for “outright discrimination” or even “deprivation of liberty”.
Our journalist Estelle Farge, for her part, went to meet the demonstrators gathered in Montparnasse (14th arrondissement of Paris) at the call of Florian Philippot. A gathering where many tricolor flags were seen.
At the beginning of the evening, the founders of the Patriots, figure of the movement, for his part rejoiced at the attendance of the day, ironic in his way on the count established by the government, amounting to 14,250 demonstrators for Paris.
“A total of 14,250 demonstrators in Paris? Even Kim Jong-un would not have dared, ”wrote Florian Philippot on Twitter, sharing a video taken there during the day.
The national anthem in the spotlight
In any case, an aerial view of the parade that left Montparnasse shows the size of the procession, which was not the only one in the capital.
Heard in Montparnasse, the national anthem was also sung in many other processions.
The air of the Marseillaise also resonated in the provinces. In Bayonne, to the rhythm of the drums for example, according to an amateur video filmed on site.
Or in Aix-en-Provence, as evidenced by another scene immortalized during the day.
And many others. In any case, if the clashes and other excesses of the day will undoubtedly have monopolized the media attention, these episodes can not summarize the national mobilization which continued for the third Saturday in a row.
Will this citizen movement succeed in influencing the health policy initiated by the government? Answer in the next official statements on the subject. For the time being, only four in 10 French people would say they support demonstrations against the health pass, according to a recent survey cited by AFP.