Chaos broke out in France as more than 120,000 people demonstrated against plans to make the vaccine mandatory in public places.
There were ugly scenes in a French city when those protesting a vaccine passport mandate clashed with masked people.
More than 120,000 people demonstrated across France on Saturday to protest the coronavirus health passes that they say discriminate against the unvaccinated, according to official figures.
Footage posted to Twitter by @HZ_Press shows how marching people in the southern French city of Toulouse clash with people wearing masks.
The video, which has been viewed more than 3.4 million times, shows people physically attacking each other with long sticks, making things so chaotic that crowds disperse.
Intense scenes were also reported in the country’s capital, Paris, where riot police tried to control the movement of the protest.
The health pass, or a recent Covid negative test, is required to enter cafes, restaurants and many other public places.
The French interior ministry said 121,000 people had demonstrated in France, including 19,000 in the capital Paris, where police arrested 85 people after clashes broke out.
Three members of the police were slightly injured during the protests, the ministry added.
This was the ninth consecutive weekend of protests, although the largest numbers were on previous marches, according to the official count.
Officials estimated last weekend’s turnout across France at 140,000, with an estimated 237,000 demonstrators showing up in early August.
Saturday’s protests come the day after former French health minister Agnes Buzyn was charged over her handling of the Covid-19 pandemic after investigators at a special court in Paris concluded there were grounds to prosecute her.
Former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and current Health Minister Olivier Veran are also under investigation by magistrates at the court and have had their offices searched.
The ruling is likely to spark a debate about blame and responsibility for the spread of Covid-19, which surprised governments, many health experts and the World Health Organization when it began to spread from China in early 2020.
dr. Buzyn was charged with “endangering the lives of others”.
The former doctor, who resigned from her position in February last year, weeks after France’s first Covid cases were confirmed, has faced criticism and ridicule over her initial statements about the pandemic.
She initially said in January 2020 that there was “practically no risk” of importing Covid-19 from the Chinese city at the origin of the outbreak, Wuhan, and went on to say that the “risk of spreading the coronavirus among the population is very small.” is. ”.
A month later, when she left the ministry to make a failed bid to become mayor of Paris, she claimed “the tsunami is yet to come,” in apparent contradiction to her previous statements.
The cancer and transplant specialist later told a parliamentary inquiry that she had warned President and then Prime Minister Philippe of the potential “dangers” of Covid-19 as early as January.
France also faced a serious shortage of masks at the start of the pandemic and the government was inconsistent in its advice on face coverings, initially doubting their effectiveness and then mandating them in public areas.
Originally published as Protest erupts over vaccine passport in France