Pam Barker | Director of TLB Europe Reloaded Project
It’s difficult to believe that the sudden resurgence of terrorism with, first, last Wednesday’s bomb threat that got the Eiffel Tower closed, and then yesterday’s knife attack outside the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices, scene of the first set of terrorist attacks in France in January of 2015, is mere coincidence.
The murders at the Charlie Hebdo offices led to France being put under a state of emergency that has never been lifted, giving the state all sorts of permanent powers it was never intended to have. Charlie Hebdo was suitably dubbed France’s 9/11. Now, we have this sudden knife attack outside the magazine’s Paris premises, curiously labelled ‘symbolic’ by France’s technocrat Prime Minister Jean Castex. The trial of minor figures in those attacks has been underway here since early September (France’s 9/11: French Trial Begins 5 Years After Charlie Hebdo Attacks).
Rolling news was predictably obsessed with yesterday’s attack when France is quietly exploding for other reasons, not only to do with mismanagement of the fake panic associated with the virus, but with Marseille, as well as other cities, being in the government’s crosshairs for new and entirely unnecessary lockdown measures. In Marseille, the city’s bars and restaurants have to close completely for a two-week period, which will seriously harm local merchants.
By now, it is obvious to many French that the coronavirus measures are nonsense and illogical, and that despite the number of ‘cases’ rising due to free mass testing producing dodgy results, there doesn’t seem to be any palpably sick people as there were back in March. Doctors (also here, here and here), parents groups, police, lawyers – there are many with a sufficiently credible profile who are now publicly doubting the competency and motives of the government over its virus management.
Marseille, a city of under a million (compared to Paris’ approximately 12 million) and France’s second city, on the Mediterranean coast, is home to Professor Didier Raoult, who still continues to come under attack for his scientific use and defence of hydroxychloroquine. Vendettas against political rivals are part of the ‘smell’ of the French political scene, so those who suspect this is what is really happening may not be far wrong. French health minister and political operative Olivier Véran is no friend of Raoult. The French, however, are far more inclined to believe Raoult than the government. Marseille also has a quite different local culture with a much more cohesive, organic identity, as well as a more vulnerable economy compared to Paris’. Now, locals are erupting over new measures that are believed to be targeting the city.
Here are a few extracts from RT France and Covidinfos.net.
The controversial measure of total closure of bars and restaurants in the metropolis of Aix-Marseille to fight against Covid-19 will be implemented “from Sunday [September 27] evening”, announced the president of the PACA/South region. Renaud Muselier announced, on September 25, that the total closure of bars and restaurants in the metropolis of Aix-Marseille to fight against Covid-19 – whose announcement by Health Minister Olivier Véran has caused an outcry among restaurateurs and local politicians – would be implemented “from Sunday [September 27] evening”.
… his announcements had raised an outcry among local politicians, as well as a protest movement of restaurant and bar professionals. A gathering of several hundred local business people was held on the morning of September 25 in front of the Commercial Court of Marseille.
At the call of Marseilles’ entrepreneurs, local merchants gathered in front of the Commercial Court of Marseilles against the local restrictive measures announced by the government to fight against Covid-19.
While the Minister of Health Olivier Véran is expected during the day, a rally is taking place on the morning of September 25 in Marseilles, in front of the Commercial Court. Local entrepreneurs are demonstrating against the closure of bars and restaurants, announced by the minister a few days earlier, in order to fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Renaud Muselier, president of the PACA region, announced on September 25 that he is filing a summary judgment to prevent the closure of bars and restaurants in the Aix-Marseille metropolis. He was present at the rally.
Furious in the face of the restrictions announced from Paris by Minister Véran, the City of Marseille asked the government for “10 days before the implementation of new measures”. The authorities have denounced the announcements without consultation.
Marseilles officials have not cooled down. The same evening of the announcements of Olivier Véran, they called the new restrictive anti-coronavirus measures targeting Marseille a “collective punishment” decided “unilaterally”. On September 24, they began an arm wrestling match.
“This collective punishment is extremely hard on the economy of our territories,” the president of the region, Renaud Muselier, reacted in a statement denouncing a “quasi-refinement”. He stressed that Marseille had reached “a plateau” (after an increase) with an incidence rate slightly down over a week (from 228 to 193 per 100,000 people) and a rate of positivity that also fell very slightly from 8.7% to 8.2%. Proof, according to Renaud Muselier, that “the previous measures are producing their effects”.
“I learn with astonishment and anger a decision for which the Marseille City Council was not consulted. Nothing in the health situation justifies this announcement. I do not accept that the people of Marseille are victims of political decisions that nobody can understand” said Michèle Rubirola (EELV), mayor of the city.
Maryse Joissains mayor of Aix-en-Provence reacted in the columns of La Provence to the latest measures imposed by the government of Jean Castex.
“We have 5 patients in intensive care, and 10 people hospitalized throughout the city”.
“I’ve never seen this before! It’s going too far! Their role is to protect, prevent, even punish, but not to create an anxiety-provoking climate like that! People will no longer want to put their children in school, shopkeepers will go bankrupt! People need to be calmed down, they’re doing the opposite… Now we’re getting out of hand, I say shut up, Veran! The high administration is going crazy”.
“I consider that the government is directly responsible for the serious economic crisis that is looming. I don’t want my city and my merchants to be ruined.”
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