Man Fined €10,000 for Portraying Macron as Hitler Over Vaccine Passports

Getty Images / Michel-Ange Flori/Facebook

A billboard owner in France has been fined 10,000 euros for “publicly insulting” President Emannuel Macron for depicting the French leader as Adolph Hitler in response to the imposition of vaccine passports.

A court in Toulon sided with French President Emmanuel Macron, who sued Michel-Ange Flori, 62, for two billboards caricaturing Macron as Nazi leader Adolph Hitler and former Marshal of France, Philippe Pétain, who was himself convicted of treason for working with the Nazi regime during the Second World War.

While President Macron has recently taken a firm stance in defending the right of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to caricature the Islamic prophet Muhammed, he decided to take the billboard owner to court for insulting him in a similar fashion.

The first billboard appeared on July 19th, just days after the introduction of the so-called pass sanitaire (health pass) in France, which requires citizens to present papers proving their vaccination or Covid status to enter into restaurants, pubs, cafes, and other public spaces.

The billboard showed Mr Macron with a Hitler moustache and dressed in a Nazi uniform, with the accompanying phrase: “Obey, get vaccinated”, La Voix Du Nord reported.

The second poster showed Macron dressed as former Marshal of France Philippe Pétain against the backdrop of a QR code, with this message: “There is only one pass to go through,” intending to evoke the “papers please” regime enacted by Pétain’s government during the Nazi occupation of France.

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Posted by Michel-ange Flori on Thursday, August 12, 2021

Despite France removing the crime of “insulting the President of the Republic ” in 2013, the French president is still allowed to sue fellow citizens for public defamation or injury.

Though rarely enforced, a court in Toulon agreed with Mr Macron that the billboards represented “an obvious desire to harm” and therefore ordered Mr Flori to pay the French leader 10,000 euros (£8,500/$12,000).

Mr Flori has vowed to “immediately appeal” the ruling, arguing that the right to caricature has been enshrined in law.

Representing the billboard owner, Béranger Tourné said that his client “is perhaps irreverent, rude, and a demagogue but not at all guilty.”

“The president so quick to defend freedom of expression… but that it stops at his august person,” he added, noting that the posters were made “in reaction to a controversial and political debate.”

Mr Flori, for his part, said that his purpose was to “denounce the attacks on the freedoms of a drifting authoritarian regime.”

Invoking the protests following the deadly Islamist terror attacks following the publication of a caricature of the Islamic prophet on the Chalie Hebdo magazine, protesters gathered outside the courthouse in Toulon with the phrase “I am Flori”.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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