About 60,000 people, including far-right activists and members of France’s “yellow vest” movement, on Saturday protested across the country against a bill requiring everyone to have a special virus pass to enter restaurants and mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all healthcare workers.
Similar protests were held in Italy and Greece.
About 5,000 people demonstrated in Athens, carrying placards touting slogans such as: “Don’t touch our children,” an Agence France-Presse journalist said.
Protesters gathered in Rome to demonstrate the government’s decision to require a “Green Pass” to access indoor dining, local fairs, stadiums, cinemas and other gathering places.
In Paris, police fired water cannons and tear gas on rowdy protesters, although most gatherings were orderly.
Legislators in the French Senate were debating the virus bill after the French National Assembly approved it on Friday, as virus infections are spiking and hospitalizations are rising. The French government wants to speed up vaccinations to protect vulnerable people and hospitals, and avoid any new lockdowns.
Most French adults are fully vaccinated and multiple polls indicate a majority of French people support the new measures, but not everyone.
Protesters chanting “Liberty! Liberty!” gathered at the Place de la Bastille and marched through eastern Paris in one of several demonstrations around France on Saturday.
Thousands also joined a gathering across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower.
While most protesters were calm, tensions erupted on the margins of the Bastille march. Riot police sprayed tear gas on marchers after someone threw a chair at an officer. Other projectiles were also thrown. Later some protesters moved to the Arc de Triomphe and police used water cannon to disperse them.
Marchers included far-right politicians and activists as well as others angry at French President Emmanuel Macron. They were upset over a French “health pass” that is now required to enter museums, movie theaters and tourist sites.
The bill under debate would expand the pass requirement to all restaurants and bars in France and some other venues.
To get the pass, people need to be fully vaccinated, have a recent negative test or have proof they recently recovered from the virus.
Meanwhile in Brazil, tens of thousands took to the streets to demand the impeachment of Brazillian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is facing increasing pressure as the COVID-19 pandemic exacts a devastating toll.
It was the fourth weekend of protests called by leftist political parties, labor unions and social groups against Bolsonaro, who is being investigated for allegedly turning a blind eye to a scheme to embezzle government funds in the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.
Protest marches were planned in 400 cities and towns.
In Rio de Janeiro, thousands of people in red clothes and masks marched with banners bearing slogans berating Bolsonaro, including “No one can take any more” and “Get out corrupt criminal.”
PAST TACTICS: In what some see as a return to hardline strategies, the new Afghan rulers hanged the body of an alleged kidnapper from a crane as warning to criminals The Taliban hanged a dead body from a crane parked in a city square in Afghanistan on Saturday in a gruesome display that signaled the hardline movement’s return to some of its brutal tactics of the past. Taliban officials initially brought four bodies to the central square in the western city of Herat, then moved three of them to other parts of the city for public display, said Wazir Ahmad Seddiqi, who runs a pharmacy on the edge of the square. Taliban officials announced that the four were caught taking part in a kidnapping earlier on Saturday and were killed by police,
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