By Ingrid Melander, Lea Guedj
PARIS (Reuters) – – The government on Wednesday defended President Emmanuel Macron’s use of crude language in a new campaign against France’s vaccine-free, after his remarks drew a snub from the opposition and mixed responses from voters.
Macron said he wanted to “piss off” people who are not vaccinated by making their lives more complicated they would end up being slapped. He made the comments in an interview with Le Parisien newspaper, in which he called people who are not vaccinated irresponsible.
Christian Jacob, the conservative Les Republicans party chair, said that a president could not say such words to parliament , as it considered the possibility of making it mandatory for people with a valid vaccination to be allowed to enter enclosed public spaces.
But spokesperson Gabriel Attal said that, amid an “supersonic” increase in Covid cases, the government stood by Macron’s comments.
“Who is pissing on who today?” “, Attal said, in reference to health workers struggling to deal with the crisis with the pandemic. “It’s those who don’t want to take the vaccine.”
Prime Minister Jean Castex stated that people who have had the jab are “exasperatedby those who have not been vaccine-free.
Macron is likely to run for president in April, and Macron might have figured out that enough people are vaccinated to make his comment resonate with voters.
In a nation where more than 124,000 people have died from COVID-19, his words resonated with many.
“He’s right,” said 89-year-old Paris pensioner Jean, who has had his COVID-19 booster and the flu shot too. “Those who are against the vaccine must be aware of the dangers of the vaccine and should be vaccinations.”
Jacob However, Jacob was not the only one to agree that Macron’s use slang term “emmerder” which is a translation of “merde” (shit), was unacceptable.
“That shows an aggressive side and is a negative word, and it’s not clever of him,” said 25-year old sales representative Maya Belhassen.
“That’s not a good comment from a president,” added newspaper salesman Pascal Delord.
TARGETING THE SCIENTISMS
France has traditionally been more vaccine-sceptic than many of its neighbours, and pandemic restrictions have led to a number of protests on the streets however, nearly 90% of those aged 12 and older have been vaccinated, which is among the continent’s highest COVID-19 vaccine rates.
For several months individuals had to prove that they had been vaccinated or a negative COVID-19 in order to be allowed to enter public venues like cafes and cinemas. However, with Delta and Omicron variant infections rising, the government decided to drop the test option in the new law.
After the interview was released on Tuesday night, the opposition demanded several suspensions of the parliamentary discussion on the vaccine pass.
“I’m in favor of the vaccine pass but I’m not able to support the text that’s goal is to ‘piss off’ the French,” Jacob told parliament. “Is this your goal either way?”
According to a government source, they are not concerned about the text’s adoption, despite heated debates in parliament that resumed Wednesday afternoon and hundreds of amendments.
Initial plans were for the new law’s entry into force on January 15. The source said that a delay of a few days would not impact the law’s efficiency. When the lower house of parliament eventually votes it, the bill will be sent to the senate for approval.
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