‘Not Vaccinated:’ French COVID-19 Demonstration Draws Ire for Appropriation of Holocaust Symbol
A demonstration in the French city of Avignon where some participants wore yellow stars marked with the words “Not Vaccinated” continued to draw outrage this week from local politicians, who accused organizers of mocking the Nazi persecution of the Jews by appropriating one of the most visible symbols of the Holocaust.
About 45 protestors organized by a radical group called “Convergence Citoyenne du Sud” marched through the center of the historic city in the south of France, openly comparing government-imposed restrictions to counter the COVID-19 pandemic with Nazi laws discriminating against Jews. The protestors also compared a proposed EU passport reserved for those who have been vaccinated against the disease to Nazi antisemitism.
In an interview for a French-language website, one of the organizers of the protest conceded that the use of the yellow star — which the Nazis compelled all Jews over the age of six to wear on their outer clothing — was “maybe a bit strong.”
She continued: “But it is also the expression of how people feel about a sort of institutionalization of discrimination. We are certainly not in a genocide, but these laws against liberty recall dark moments in our history.”
Another organizer pointed out: “The Germans started by banning kindergartens and cinemas to Jews.”
A parliamentary representative for the region condemned the protestors as “brainless.”
“Outrageous!” tweeted Alpes-Maritimes deputy Eric Ciotti. “In Avignon, brainless demonstrators used a yellow star crossed out with the words ‘unvaccinated’ in parallel with the yellow star imposed on Jews during World War II.”
Fabienne Haloui — a local French Communist Party (PCF) councilor — said that while protests were legitimate, the participants had discredited their own message by invoking the Nazi persecution of the Jews.
“The restriction of freedoms that the vaccination passport can cause can in no way be compared to the persecution of Jews which ended in genocide,” she said. “Sometimes it is good to have a sense of proportion so as not to become indecent.”
Protests against COVID-19 restrictions involving the inappropriate use of Holocaust imagery have been seen around Europe during the past year, especially in Germany.