Macron says he stands by remarks pledging to 'piss off' France's unvaccinated
French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that he fully stands by controversial remarks earlier in the week in which he vowed to "piss off" people not vaccinated against Covid-19 until they accept shots.
The earthy language and harsh approach provoked uproar in French media and from opponents, while the controversy also delayed debate over the draft law on the "vaccine pass" in parliament's lower house.
"People can get upset about a way of speaking that seems colloquial, but I fully stand by it. I'm upset about the situation we're in, that's where the real divisions are in the country," he told reporters at a joint press conference in Paris with EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
Macron told Le Parisien newspaper in an interview earlier this week that "as for the non-vaccinated, I really want to piss them off" with new measures that would bar them from much of public life.
"We have to tell (the unvaccinated)... you will no longer be able to go to a restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema," the president said.
>> Macron’s blunt vow to ‘piss off’ the unvaccinated takes aim at centrist voters
On Friday, Macron also defended a widely-criticised line from the same interview, in which he said that "irresponsible people are no longer citizens" – also in reference to the unvaccinated.
"To be a citizen is to have rights and duties, and duties come first," he said. "The idea of freedom brandished by some of our fellow citizens to say 'I'm free not to get vaccinated', that stops where you impinge on others' liberty, where you put others' lives in danger."
France is reporting more than 200,000 daily new Covid-19 cases on average, an all-time record, due to the high contagiousness of the new Omicron coronavirus variant. Macron said it was the authorities' obligation to place restrictions against those who are not vaccinated, to protect the more than 90 percent of French citizens who are vaccinated.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
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