PARIS (Reuters) – The garage of a French ruling party lawmaker was set on fire and an adjacent wall scrawled with graffiti by suspected anti-vaccination protesters, as the government prepares to tighten legislation on COVID-19 shots amid soaring infection numbers.
In Chambly, north of Paris, the house of Pascal Bois – an MP for President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling LREM party – was targeted on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, with his car and garage set on fire and phrases like “Vote No” spray-painted on the wall running around his house.
“Such criminal acts of intimidation are not acceptable in a democracy,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on his Twitter account on Thursday, adding that police had opened an investigation.
Similar phrases were sprayed on the wall at the offices of LREM lawmaker Carole Bureau-Bonnard in Noyon, further north of Paris in recent weeks.
“It is worrying that some people say that the measures to fight the epidemic make France look like a dictatorship. They should go and take a look in some other countries, and think about the situation in the hospitals, where most of the COVID patients are not vaccinated,” Darmanin said.
Faced with a spike in new COVID-19 infections – with a record high of more than 208,000 new cases reported on Wednesday – the government will require that people show proof of vaccination to enter many public places from Jan. 15.
Until now, proof of a recent negative COVID test was sufficient to enters bars, movie theatres and trains.
(Reporting by GV De Clercq; Editing by Hugh Lawson)