Paris, France – In a wide-ranging, 2-hour-long interview with French online media Brut, President Emmanuel Macron rejected accusations his government had taken an “illiberal” turn, also taking a swing at Orban’s Hungary.
“Today, the situation is not satisfactory but, forgive me, that doesn’t make us an authoritarian state”, he told the interviewers from Brut, a media popular among France’s youth. “We’re not Hungary, Turkey or somesuch”, added Macron, who has long crossed swords with the government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. “I can’t let it be said we’re reducing liberties in our country”.
The so-called “global security bill” drafted by the French government and approved by the lower house of Parliament would have restricted to right to share videos and images of police officers on duty.
The bill caused a backlash among journalists and sparked mass protests in Paris and other French cities last month, with critics concerned the controversial “article 24” would curb the freedom of information and hinder the ability to report on police violence and brutality.
Held amidst growing criticism against the French government, accused of taking an increasingly right-wing, authoritarian and illiberal turn, the nation-wide debate escalated after the release of the video of Black man Michel Zecler being brutally attacked by three police officers in his music studio, and following the violent dismantling of a migrant camp in the center of Paris.
Macron condemned the actions of the three officers, but said such incidents did not mean that the entire French police force was inherently racist or violent, also pointing to cases when policemen and women were attacked by protesters.
“If you don’t look at society in its entirety, you’re not being fair”, he commented.
Following the popular outrage, MPs from Macron’s ruling LREM party announced they would rewrite part of the draft bill.