Violence against elected officials increases in France

The violent attack on the French MP Stéphane Claireaux at his home on 9 January has put the issue of threats, harassment, and attacks on elected representatives back in the spotlight. [EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON]

The violent attack on the French MP Stéphane Claireaux at his home on 9 January has put the issue of threats, harassment, and attacks on elected representatives back in the spotlight. These are increasing at a worrying rate, both in number and intensity.

The health crisis and adopting policies to combat the pandemic have further exposed politicians. Since the introduction of the sanitary pass last July, 300 complaints of death threats have been filed by elected officials with national visibility. More than 1,000 of them were physically attacked in 2021 (+47% in one year).

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin added that 60 threats against elected officials had been recorded since the beginning of 2022. While he specified that the reasons for the threats are “of all kinds”, he noted that those linked to anti-vaxxer movements are clearly on the rise.

In particular, the content of the threats is striking: many MPs and mayors report messages referring to beheadings, firearms and explosives. They also deplore the distribution of lists containing their personal numbers and addresses.

During a joint press conference with the group presidents, the President of the Assemblée nationale Richard Ferrand condemned the threats, adding that “beyond our people and our institution, it is the principles of democracy and the Republic that are at stake”.

(Davide Basso | EURACTIV.fr)

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