French President Emmanuel Macron has come under fire after he mocked an elderly “Yellow Vest” protestor who was badly injured over the weekend.
Genevieve Legay, a 73-year-old grandmother, suffered a fractured skull Saturday after police charged protestors in the Riviera city of Nice.
Voiceofeurope.com reports: Macron, who was in the area Sunday for a meeting with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping, told the Nice-Matin newspaper that he wished Legay a “speedy recovery, and perhaps a degree of wisdom”.
“When one is fragile and risks being shoved, one does not go to places that are declared off-limits and one does not put oneself in a situation like that,” he said.
The remarks were immediately criticised by Legay’s family, which has accused police of using excessive force to disperse the protesters and filed a legal complaint against the authorities.
“Mr Macron, our Genevieve of Nice does not need your lessons in wisdom. You could learn a lot from her. She stands up for the common good. And you, in the name of what are you hitting her?” France Unbowed’s firebrand leader Jean-Luc Melenchon tweeted.
National Rally spokesman Sebastien Chenu, for his part, said it was evidence that Macron “doesn’t like the French”.
Before being injured Legay, a regional spokeswoman for the anti-capitalist group Attac, was interviewed by France’s CNews network on the central square where demonstrators had gathered.
“We’re here to say we have the right to protest,” said the bespectacled, white-haired activist, who bore a rainbow flag marked Paix (Peace in French), adding that by talking with the police she believed she had already “touched their hearts”.
Asked whether she feared for her safety, she shrugged and said: “I’m 73 years old, what can happen to me? I’m fighting for my grandchildren, I’ve been campaigning for 50 years”.
The video of the interview was widely shared on social media, where her stance elicited widespread sympathy but also criticism from those who considered her irresponsible.