French President Emmanuel Macron said that those who refuse the vaccine are “not citizens,” adding that his remarks intended to “piss them off” and make life miserable.
“I am not about pissing off the French people… But as for the non-vaccinated, I really want to piss them off,” Macron told Le Parisien during a Q&A with readers published on Jan. 4, adding that, “and we will continue to do this, to the end. This is the strategy.”
“In a democracy, the worst enemies are lies and stupidity… We are putting pressure on the unvaccinated by limiting, as much as possible, their access to activities in social life,” Macron said.
The Head of State further stated, “only a tiny minority who are resisting. How do we reduce that minority? We reduce it – sorry for the expression – by pissing them off even more.”
Macron added he didn’t intend to “jail [those without a vaccine], or forcibly vaccinate them.”
Ban on the vaccine-free
Macron’s comments came as the French parliament discussed the latest proposals to amend the health pass to be valid only for the fully vaccinated — and no longer for those who test negative — to allow them to participate in society from Jan. 15 on.
But “we have to tell them: from Jan. 15, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant.” Macron said, alluding to the upcoming vaccination pass.
“You will no longer be able to go for a coffee; you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema,” he said.
He then kept his word by antagonizing vaccine opponents even further by saying, “When my freedoms threaten those of others, I become someone irresponsible. Someone irresponsible is not a citizen.”
Macron’s words spurred outrage among analysts, journalists, and politicians. “No health emergency justifies such words,” head of the right-wing Republicans in the Senate, Bruno Retailleau, said. “Emmanuel Macron says he has learned to love the French, but it seems he especially likes to despise them.”
Other critics of the vaccine pass, like. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the radical left France Insoumise party, said Macron’s words were “appalling,” asserting, “It’s clear the vaccine pass is a collective punishment against individual liberties.”
It’s not likely that Macron made his statements unintentionally, as some have concluded. Macron used the term “piss off” full of confidence three times in a row, perhaps thinking he would get away with it as he may have felt a majority of the Assemblee would back his plans and secretly admire his boldness.
France boasts a vaccination rate of nearly 90 percent of those eligible, officials say, without the high vaccination rate having any positive effect on the pandemic as infections continue to soar in the country.
According to the latest opinion polls for the upcoming 2022 French Presidential elections in April, Macron (23%) has a lead over his key opponents Marine Le Pen (14.5%), Eric Zemmour (15%), Jean-Luc Mélenchon (13%), and Valérie Pécresse (15%).
Vaccination pass shot down
However, In a shock move late on Jan. 3, the National Assembly shot down Health Minister Olivier Vérran’s launch of a fully-fledged vaccine passport that would have been implemented on Jan. 15.
The leader of La France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, cheered the move as a necessary “correction.”
Véran decried the move, contending that “selfishness often hides behind talk of supposed liberty.”
Lawmakers from France’s ruling La République en Marche (La REM) party claimed they and other lawmakers had received numerous death threats prior to voting on the new measures, allegedly issued by militant non-vaxxers.
“We will not yield,” said Yaël Braun-Pivet, of La REM, firmly adding, “it’s our democracy that is at stake.“