In Paris, the outraged protesters were “cooled” with tear gas and rubber bullets. But the Parisians stand unafraid, and all of France stands with the Parisians. Macron did the impossible: hatred for him united the country. Blue collar workers and bourgeois, old people and young people, Catholics and Muslims come out hand in hand to speak their mind about their president.
No need to frame the French as some kind of obscurantist anti-vaxxers. They are well aware of the importance of vaccination and have no intention to resist it. The reason for the protests is the idiotic use of administrative resources on the part the authorities to force vaccinations. Instead of public dialogue and persuasion, there are prohibitions and repression. France is not used to this, so France takes to the streets.
But the French mass protest is not fueled by the coronavirus alone. “Stop Islamophobia”, “No justice—no peace”, “We are here, even if the racists don’t want it” and “Even if Macron doesn’t want it, we are here for the honor of Muslims and the future of children”—these are the slogans waved by the protesters. The “Republican Principles” bill, from which even the French nationalists led by Marine Le Pen disassociated themselves, poured oil on the flames of social tension in France, turning them into a bonfire.
Despite its general wording and vague concepts, or perhaps because of them, this document will become an instrument of unprecedented pressure on Muslims, whom Macron and his immediate circle seem to wish to drive out of the Fifth Republic. The concept of religious freedom in France, once one of the leaders of the free European world, no longer exists. It lies trampled by the adoption of this bill.
But if Macron believed that the new law would be well received in the army and the police, it was a serious miscalculation on his part. The police in France do not want to inflame Islamophobia—they want expanded rights in suppressing illegal activities, whoever may be engaged in it, a French national or a migrant. They demand protection of the state in the cases of the use of weapons, forceful arrests, and so on. And here the French president was wide off the mark.
Macron’s political bankruptcy is becoming increasingly obvious, as the crisis of the Fifth Republic is becoming systemic. The situation keeps getting worse, and Paris clearly cannot handle it.
Translated from Haqqin.az