Health passport in France | Anti-Semitic signals creep into protests

(Paris) It’s impossible to ignore: Between provocative slogans and comparisons with Nazi atrocities, the anti-sanitary passport protests in France were riddled with signs of anti-Semitism. Anti-Jewish hatred was amplified by the epidemic and social networks, alarming associations and specialists.

Roman Fonsegrives
France media agency

Some protesters use a widely derogatory symbol – yellow stars on the chest, denouncing a “Nazi passport,” and swastikas made up of syringes – making Nazi barbarism relativ.

The anti-Semitic ‘Who?’, used as a symbol to assign responsibility for the health crisis to the Jewish community, also rushed in processions across the country.

An accumulation of alarming signs that, according to anti-racist associations, a plateau was crossed for which during this mobilization.

“What amazes me is the repetitive and supposed nature of things. During the yellow vest movement, anti-Semitism was expressed more on the fringes of the demonstrations, through deterioration”, notes the head of the French anti-racist organization SOS Racisme, Dominique Sobeau. “From now on, the banner holders did not hide and there was no reaction from other demonstrators. However, the slogan “Who? “And its anti-Semitic meaning has spread widely.”

“The unruly word of social networks, which is hardly punishable, falls into the street. It is a continuum,” laments Mario Stasi, president of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LYCRA). Her organization filed a complaint against a teacher who held a “Who?” sign. At the beginning of August. » In Metz (East), which will be judged on September 8.

The leader says the anti-health passport movement – which last Saturday mobilized more than 214,000 protesters in France, according to police, and 388,000 according to the militant group Le Nombre Jaune – “cannot be reduced” to this anti-Semitic category. associative. But for him, “the rejection of the vaccine is fueled by conspiracy theses that are a clear gateway to anti-Semitism.”

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Historian Mark Knoble explains: “Things started long before the ‘who’ tagline appeared, a classic far-right strategy of scapegoating without naming it head-on.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen sloppy comments on certain platforms targeting Agnes Buzyn [l’ex-ministre de la Santé]And her husband is immunologist Yves Levy, or director general of health Jerome Salomon. Then these accusations spread to the Jews as a whole,” recalls this specialist in racist and anti-Semitic propaganda on the Internet.

He explains that due to his share of uncertainty and fears, the pandemic has been “used for anti-Semitic purposes.”

“A whole bunch of right-wing extremist or patently anti-Semitic activists have adapted their rhetoric to take out hateful clichés.” Thus the Jewish community was accused of manipulating power, profiting from vaccines, or seeking to poison the population.

“The sequence of COVID-19 is an accelerator of anti-Semitism, because we’re seeing a constant drama,” adds researcher Tristan Mendes France, who specializes in conspiracy. “People who turn to conspiratorial attitudes online are reminded of their anger and frustration on a daily basis, as we talk about the pandemic every day. It is like rubbing an open wound.”

The anti-health gatherings, spontaneous and disorganized, have thus become a container for all discourse, even the most extreme.

“These are bag demonstrations, organized behind vague terms, that allow unrelated communities to clump together,” Mendez France said.

Besides the former second-in-command of the far-right National Front party Florian Philippot (Les Patriotes) who claims to lead the largest protests against Parisian health passports, the Catholic fundamentalists of Civitas or Dieudonne – condemned several times for his opposition to – Semitic provocations – have also claimed themselves. To processions inhabited by “yellow vests” and demonstrators.

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To hold accountable the authors of the unacceptable comments, the European Jewish Organization (OJE) sends lawyers and volunteers to the demonstrations. “We are trying to provide as many items as possible for the prosecution,” says Chief Prosecutor Muriel Oknin Regal.

But the lawyer laments that in case of prosecution, “the penalties are very light, and we rarely exceed the fine or suspension.” For her, “Judges should be aware of their role. We do not take the measure of the poison that is spreading in our society.”

At Licra, Mr. Stasi also called for “training sessions for racist criminals” and “real European regulation” on cyber hate. He concludes, “We can no longer leave moderation to social media alone.”

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