Climate Activists Hurl Soup at Iconic ‘Mona Lisa’ Amidst French Farmers’ Protest, Blockade Call

France witnessed heightened security measures around Paris as agitated farmers threatened to converge on the capital on Sunday. This development as climate activists launched an unconventional protest at the Louvre Museum, where soup was thrown at the protective glass of the iconic “Mona Lisa” painting. According to news agency AP, two activists, belonging to the “Food Riposte” group, threw soup at the protective glass of the “Mona Lisa,” expressing their discontent with the country’s agricultural system.

In a social media video, the activists questioned the prioritisation of art over the right to a healthy and sustainable food system.

“What’s the most important thing?” they exclaimed. “Art, or the right to a healthy and sustainable food?”, AP reported.

The French Interior Ministry, under the directive of Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, initiated a significant deployment of security forces to preclude potential disruptions. The farmers, rallying under the banner of the Rural Coordination Union in the Lot-et-Garonne region, demand improved remuneration, reduced bureaucratic hurdles, and safeguards against inexpensive imports, according to AP’s report.

Minister Darmanin convened a security meeting on Sunday, during which he issued orders to thwart any potential blockades around key locations, including the Rungis International Market and Paris airports. The aim is to prevent convoys of farmers from entering the capital, an official statement from Darmanin’s office informed.

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Tractor March Towards Market In Paris, 2 Unions Announce ‘Siege’ Of Capital With Blockade

Highlighting the epicenter of the unrest, farmers from the Lot-et-Garonne region plan to utilise tractors in a Monday procession towards the Rungis International Market, a pivotal supplier of fresh produce to Paris and its environs. France’s two largest farmers unions declared their intention to block major roads surrounding the capital, intending to place the city “under siege” starting Monday afternoon.

The situation escalated further as climate activists disrupted the tranquility of the Louvre Museum.

Following the incident, Louvre employees swiftly covered the Mona Lisa with black panels and evacuated visitors from the room. Two individuals were subsequently arrested, as confirmed by Paris police.

The “Food Riposte” group, on its website, accused the French government of reneging on climate commitments and called for a state-sponsored healthcare system equivalent to ensure better access to healthy food for citizens while providing farmers with a fair income, the report stated.

Meanwhile, the ongoing farmers’ protests, marked by tractors blocking roads and the disposal of agricultural waste at government offices, prompted the government to announce measures on Friday. Despite these measures, farmers argue that their demands are inadequately addressed. The measures include the “drastic simplification” of technical procedures and a gradual reduction in diesel fuel taxes for farm vehicles.

France PM Gabriel Attal Hints At Additional Measures For Farmers

According to AP, Newly appointed Prime Minister Gabriel Attal acknowledged the challenges faced by farmers during a visit to a farm in the central region of Indre-et-Loire on Sunday. He emphasised the need to find solutions in the short, middle, and long term, acknowledging the delicate balance between the demand for quality and the desire for lower prices.

Attal also hinted at potential “additional” measures to counter what he termed as “unfair competition” from countries with different production rules importing food to France. He assured that more decisions addressing farmers’ concerns would be announced in the coming weeks, the report stated. 

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