He has divided France! Macron sparks fury as Covid rules give impetus to Yellow Vests

Emmanuel Macron portrait smashed by protestors in Poitiers

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French anti-lockdown protesters in Poitiers gathered for a demonstration against the new vaccine passport system introduced by French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this month. Around 700 people were in attendance and dozens of them attempted to overrun the government building, which was open for a wedding at the time of the protest. The footage from the scene showed people stamping on Mr Macron’s portrait before they ripped it up and threw it out the window as the crowd outside cheered.

Several people were seen jumping on the portrait and breaking the protective glass before the photo of the French President was ripped up.

Many people, including the mayor of the western city of Poitiers Leonor Moncond’huy, condemned the incident.

Mr Moncond’huy said on Twitter: “I strongly condemn the degradation of the Town Hall of #Poitiers and the assault of a municipal agent on the sidelines of the demonstrations that day.

“Freedom of expression must be exercised with respect for the rule of law and for individuals, and cannot justify any violence.”

Sacha Houlié a politician for Macron’s La Republique En Marche! Party from Poitiers added: “Insults, death threats, shameful comparisons, invasions of public places, portraits of the president torn.

“France of Pasteur, the city of Descartes, is ashamed of these individuals who denounce dictatorship while adopting [its] customs.”

The protest comes after in an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, National Rally leader Marine Le Pen has argued Mr Macron’s presidency has done nothing but divide France.

She said: “Covid, like all crises, has acted as an indicator and an accelerator.

“An indicator of the scientific, health or hospital decline of France, incapable of developing its own vaccine, of producing paracetamol or of having sufficient ICU beds.

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“More broadly, this crisis has shown the imperative need for industrial sovereignty, for the ability to have protective borders, and the necessity to have the will-power to decide by and for ourselves.

“This crisis has revealed the limits of the Macron government decisions, the incapacity to anticipate and the lack of vision.

“The economic impact of these shortcomings and even of these political mistakes is dramatic.

“We haven’t finished paying them.”

Ms Le Pen, who is gearing up for her third presidential bid next spring, added: “Macron, who presented himself as an economic champion, will leave a country plagued by accelerating deindustrialisation, destabilised by a record unemployment rate and crushed by abysmal debt.”

“Macron’s main failure is to have divided the French. The Yellow Vests crisis bears witness to this.

“I want to unite them in a great collective project that will be implemented by a government of national union.”

Last weekend, police estimated that 100,000 people joined protests against the new Covid measures – some of them under the banner of the Yellow Vests.

Another round of protests is planned for this weekend.

An internal interior ministry report described the protests as “exceptional in their scale”, warning further large protests were likely, and said some officials associated with the government’s COVID-19 measures needed to be extra vigilant about their security.

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The Yellow Vests now have to compete to lead the anti-health pass movement with other groups, such as far-right politicians and civil liberties campaigners.

Mohamed Boukifa, a 40-year-old baker, joined a Yellow Vest demonstration in Paris on Wednesday against the health pass.

He said he had followed the Yellow Vests over social media but had never joined a demonstration before this week.

He said: “I’m not here because I’m against the vaccine.

“I’m here to defend our freedoms. We cannot be forced to get vaccinated.”

The Yellow Vest movement started off in 2018 as a protest against taxes on diesel, then morphed into an outpouring of anger at high living costs and income inequality.

Yellow vests blocked roads and staged protest marches, often clashing with police.

Billions of euros in tax cuts helped put an end to the uprising.

After six months it began to lose steam with followers continuing to protest, but in dwindling numbers.

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