Vandals broke into the vaccination centre in the village of Lans-en-Vercors, near Grenoble in eastern France, on Friday night. They flooded the site using fire hoses and ransacked syringes and other equipment, according to local paper Le Dauphiné libéré.
Anti-vaccine graffiti was found painted on the building, according to AFP, including “1940”, “Vaccine = genocide”, and the Cross of Lorraine, a symbol used by the French Resistance during the Second World War. The vaccination centre has since been moved to another site in the village.
On Sunday morning, a fire damaged the temporary vaccination centre in Urrugne in south-west France, near the Spanish border. The fire is being treated as arson, prosecutor Jerome Bourrier in the local town of Bayonne wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
Incendie dans la nuit du 17 au 18 juillet du centre de vaccination de Urrugne. Le parquet a saisi le service de police judiciaire de Bayonne d'une enquête de flagrance pour destruction volontaire par incendie.
— Jerome Bourrier procureur Bayonne (@procBayonne) July 18, 2021
The mayor of the town, Philippe Aramendi, said there was “no doubt” about the intentional nature of the blaze, saying an inflammable liquid had been poured around the outside of the tent housing the centre. “Fortunately the fire brigade was able to quickly put out the flames and the tent has only been partially destroyed,” he said.
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Around 114,000 people protested across France on Saturday against stricter vaccination rules which are set to come into force under new legislation that will be adopted at a cabinet meeting on Monday.
The draft law will then be put to a vote later this week in parliament, where President Emmanuel Macron holds a comfortable working majority.
Under measures announced by Macron last week, people will need to show either proof of full vaccination or a recent test to enter public venues such as restaurants, bars, shopping centres, long-distance trains and cinemas, from the beginning of August.
Healthcare workers will also have until September 15th to get vaccinated or face losing their jobs.
In the three days following the announcement, nearly three million French people signed up for jabs, according to the government.
But in Saturday’s protests, critics – including fringe far-right politicians – denounced the government’s “tyranny” and called a Macron a “dictator” for the measures, which they view as unfair and discriminatory.
At a demonstration in the southern city of Perpignan several protesters wore yellow stars on their T-shirts, in an attempt to compare their plight to the persecution of Jews during World War II.
“This comparison is abhorrent,” Joseph Szwarc, one of the last remaining survivors of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup in France on July 16th and 17th, 1942, said on Sunday during a ceremony to remember the victims. “You can’t imagine how much I was affected, the tears came. I wore the star, I know what it means, I still have it on my flesh.”
— Lara Tchekov (@LaraTch) July 18, 2021
In Paris, a former member of Macron’s parliamentary party, Martine Wonner, urged protesters to “go lay siege to lawmakers, go invade their headquarters, to tell them you do not agree”.
“We will never accept this dictatorship… We must refuse this segregation,” she said in a speech captured by video and shown widely on TV.
Three colleagues in Wonner’s Liberties and Territories group in parliament issued a statement slamming “unacceptable” comments and said Wonner “could no longer be a member.”
The head of Macron’s parliamentary group, Christophe Castaner, wrote to the National Assembly speaker asking him to seek a prosecutor’s inquiry into “inciting hate and rebellion, including with violent acts”, according to a letter seen by AFP.
The government says it has no choice but to pressure people to get vaccinated as the country faces a fourth wave of cases linked to the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.
The country reported 11,000 daily cases on Saturday, double the number of a week ago. Health Minister Olivier Veran has said that nine out of 10 newly infected people are unvaccinated.