May 22, 2022

“Freedom convoy”: how antivax are organized to converge on Brussels on February 14

The Facebook group was created on January 26 and, a week later, it has no less than 175,000 subscribers. “The freedom convoy” thus aims to bring together anti-vaccines and opponents of health restrictions, in France but also in various European countries. The goal ? Converge towards Brussels, capital of the European Union, on February 14.

“Citizens intend to recover their freedom, their fundamental rights, unconditional access to healthcare, education and culture, respect for the essential values ​​of our Constitution”, is it indicated on the main poster. All volunteers, whether in trucks, cars or motorbikes, are invited to join the call.

Their inspiration is to be found on the other side of the Atlantic. A convoy of several hundred heavy goods vehicles and cars formed in mid-January in Canada, with the aim of challenging the two-week quarantine imposed on unvaccinated people circulating on the country’s soil. The procession reached Ottawa on the weekend of January 29, blocking many parts of the city and wreaking havoc. “Canada paved the way for us. European convergence for our children and all citizens is now! “, urges” The convoy of freedom “French.

Call relayed by personalities in France

In Europe and especially in France, the movement quickly overtook the original Facebook group. Other pages have emerged on the social network, Telegram channels have been created to organize, and the keyword “#ConvoidelaLiberte” has been massively shared on Twitter. According to data communicated to Le Parisien by the Visibrain monitoring platform, more than 100,000 messages containing it were published in one week. The peak was reached on January 30.

Unsurprisingly, the main figures of the “antivax” sphere were among the first to relay this slogan. “Did you know that a freedom convoy was going to be organized in France? “, falsely questioned the essayist Idriss J. Aberkane, pinned several times for having shared false information on vaccination. On the political level, Jean-Frédéric Poisson, one of Éric Zemmour’s spokespersons, shared of his “support for the Freedom Convoy”.

The claims displayed very quickly go beyond the simple health framework. “As a reminder, diesel also broke records (€1.69). We have to fight for that too,” thunders a member of the Facebook group. Something to recall the Yellow Vests movement, born on Facebook in 2018 with the rise in gasoline taxes as a trigger.

Brussels or Paris?

Before Brussels on February 14, volunteers are invited to “go up” to Paris on the weekend of February 12 and 13, leaving from the different regions during the week before. On Friday evening, an “evening of sharing and conviviality with citizen solidarity” will take place in the capital. The next day, Saturday, will be held the traditional demonstration of anti-vaccination passes. What to inflate the mobilization? Only 30,000 opponents had been identified in the streets of several French cities on Saturday October 29, according to the Ministry of the Interior. This is three times less than at the beginning of January.

The strategies still diverge and a certain vagueness reigns over the final goal. “Brussels will be inaccessible because it is blocked by Belgians and Luxembourgers. So holding Paris is better, I think,” writes a member of the French Telegram channel. The Brussels police told the Belgian press that the event was still “being assessed by the authorities”. In the meantime, many messages offer to help each other, based on “snacks”, “full on the way”, or even “roofs offered for the night” in certain cities.