Protesters Face Backlash For Comparing French Vaccine Passports To Holocaust, Apartheid

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Kendall Tietz Education Reporter
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Demonstrators in France faced backlash from a French Holocaust survivor for using references to the Holocaust and Apartheid to protest COVID-19 government restrictions, the AP reported.

A 94-year-old French Holocaust survivor condemned protestors for comparing the country’s COVID-19 policies to the Holocaust, the AP reported. French officials and anti-racism groups backed the survivor by also condemning the comparisons.

People in France opposed to the vaccines are worried that government vaccine rules, vaccine requirements and potential coronavirus passes required to enter restaurants and other venues will restrict their freedom, the AP reported. Over 100,000 people protested across France on Saturday ahead of the government’s introduction of a bill Monday that would require healthcare workers to get vaccinated and introduce coronavirus passes. (RELATED: Protester Hauls Off And Slaps French President Emmanuel Macron)

“You can’t imagine how much that upset me,” Holocaust survivor Joseph Szwarc said Sunday during a ceremony commemorating victims of antisemitic and racist acts by France. “This comparison is hateful. We must all rise up against this ignominy.”

Anti-vaccination demonstrators feel the government is unfairly targeting them, the AP reported. Some protestors wore yellow stars similar to those Jews were forced to wear under Nazis rule and some had signs referencing the Auschwitz death camp and South Africa’s regime under apartheid.

“I wore the star, I know what that is, I still have it in my flesh,” Szwarc said with tears in his eyes, the AP reported. “It is everyone’s duty to not allow this outrageous, antisemitic, racist wave to pass over us.”

France’s secretary of state for military affairs attended the ceremony and said the Holocaust references were “intolerable and a disgrace for our republic,” the AP reported. By invoking these moments in history protesters are “mocking victims of the Holocaust” and diminishing crimes against humanity that occurred during World War II, the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism said.

Polls show most of the French people are in favor of the measures, but as confirmed cases rise there are revived concerns from protestors and French citizens that restrictions could negatively impact jobs and businesses, the AP reported. Two vaccination centers in southwest France were vandalized over the weekend.

One was set on fire and another graffitied, which included at least one mention of the Nazi occupation of France, the AP reported. 

A town councilor outside of Paris, Bruno Auquier had a yellow star on this T-shirt, while passing out arm bands donning the star, the AP reported. He said he was worried the new restrictions could impact the freedom of his children and threatened to take them out of school if it became compulsory to get vaccinated.

“I will never get vaccinated,” Auquier said. “People need to wake up.”

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