French President Emmanuel Macron burst into the presidential race with a divisive remark about the country’s unvaccinated people.
Macron used a vulgarity to describe his strategy for pressuring vaccine refusers to get COVID-19 jabs. In an interview published by Le Parisien newspaper on Tuesday, he used the word “emmerder,” rooted in the French word for “crap” and meaning to rile or to bug. His salty language dominated news broadcasts on Wednesday.
“The unvaccinated, I really want to bug them. And so we will continue doing so to the end. That’s the strategy,” he said.
The 44-year-old also expressed his desire to run for re-election in April. He said he is still waiting to formally declare his candidacy because he wants to focus on the pandemic first.
Macron’s comments come as lawmakers are heatedly debating new measures that would allow only the vaccinated to enjoy activities such as eating out. More than 90 percent of adults in France are fully vaccinated.
Political commentator Philippe Moreau Chevrolet said Macron was pointing the finger at people who haven’t been vaccinated as being responsible for the record numbers of infections — instead of being himself held accountable for the situation.
In recent months, France has seen weekly protests against virus-related restrictions and vaccine requirements.
Macron’s supporters suggested the president simply expressed out loud what some vaccinated people already think about the unvaccinated.
“Let’s talk frankly. Who bugs the life of who today?” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said. “Who ruins the life of our health workers who have been mobilized for two years … in our ICUs to save patients who today are mainly not vaccinated? It is those who are opposed to the vaccine.”
“The words of the president of the republic seem to me well below the anger of a very large majority of French people” against unvaccinated people, he said.
A government official said on condition of anonymity that “that’s the style of the president. He has always been very outspoken.”
Lawmakers are debating this week the government’s planned new vaccine pass.
The measure will bar unvaccinated individuals from places such as restaurants, cinemas, theaters, museums and sports arenas. The pass will also be required on inter-regional trains and buses and on domestic flights.
Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, who opposed the vaccine pass proposal, said the president wants “to wage war against a portion of the French.”
France reported a record-breaking 271,686 daily virus cases on Tuesday as omicron infections race across the country. More than 20,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in France.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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