French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said in regard to unvaccinated people that "I really want to piss them off." His opponents openly condemned his statement as inappropriate language ahead of the presidential election just four months away, Reuters reported.
What are the details?
"The unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off. And so, we're going to continue doing so, until the end. That's the strategy," Macron told newspaper Le Parisien in an interview, Reuters said.
In 2021, France enacted a health pass preventing those lacking a negative PCR test or proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, cafes, and other venues, the outlet noted, adding that French officials want a vaccine passport that only vaccinated people can have.
Macron said he won't "vaccinate by force" the 5 million who haven't received the jabs, but plans on "limiting as much as possible their access to activities in social life," the BBC reported in reference to his interview.
"I won't send [unvaccinated people] to prison," Macron added, according to the BBC. "So we need to tell them, from 15 January, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema."
The BBC also said Macron "used the vulgar term 'emmerder' to say how he wanted to stir up the unvaccinated." The expression is from the word "merde" (s**t) that can be translated as "to get on their nerves" and is considered "very informal" by the French dictionary Larousse — and its use elicited criticism from Macron's rivals, Reuters reported.
'A president shouldn't say that'
"A president shouldn't say that," conservative leader Marine Le Pen said on Twitter, according to Reuters. "Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office."
Republicans candidate Valérie Pécresse said she was incensed that Macron accused unvaccinated people of not being citizens, BBC News said, citing CNews: "You have to accept them as they are — lead them, bring them together, and not insult them."
Another conservative, Bruno Retailleau, told BBC News that "Emmanuel Macron says he has learned to love the French, but it seems he especially likes to despise them."
Reuters said Macron previously has been chastened for off-the-cuff remarks which many in France said were arrogant, cutting, or scornful — and the president on several occasions expressed remorse for his words.
Macron told Le Parisien he "would like to" run for re-election in April, but didn't formally announce his candidacy, Reuters said, which added that he's a "clear favorite in the polls."