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Jean-Baptiste and namesake Eric Drouet. Facebook
Paris

French fake news spread after arrest of top Yellow Vest

According to fake news, the arrested leader of the Yellow Vests Eric Drouet voted for the National Front in the presidential election of 2017. It appears to be an attempt by the government to split the movement.

Published: January 4, 2019, 9:09 am

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    Editorialist Jean-Michel Aphatie, falsely claimed that Drouet “voted for Marine Le Pen in 2017 ” in the “two rounds ” of the presidential election.

    Strangely,  not many journalists and politicians rushed to correct their “infox” when Drouet corrected Aphatie. [Fake news in French is known as “infox”, ed.]

    Eric Drouet explained himself on Facebook on Wednesday night. ” I feel that people and the media know my life better than me! “, He added: ” People do not know who I voted for! They do not care. I never voted FN and even if I did it is not the question of the day! We are all from different horizons and this is our strength!”

    Aphatie, a journalist working for Europe 1 maintains that he read this “information” fifteen days ago, without remembering where. But his was clearly an attempt at dividing the movement.

    Jean-Michel Aphatie, has welcomed Drouet’s scathing denial with derision. “It seems that my tweet yesterday has intoxicated the entire press, the politicians too, and maybe the Vatican.”

    Drouet is viewed with fascination in France, because he bears the name of a character of whom Napoleon said “without you the history of France would have been quite different”. Jean-Baptiste Drouet, was a marshal of France and a soldier in Napoleon’s Army. He commanded the Corps of the Armée du Nord at the battle of Waterloo.

    While La Dépêche du Midi headlined an article – corrected since – on “The obscure ‘fascination’ of Mélenchon for the Yellow Vest Eric Drouet, elector of the far-right “, various Socialist politicians tried to denounce ex-communist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who ” is no longer a central player in the debate on the left”.

    The media machine then continued its lies without further verification, including RTL, BFMTV and Europe 1.

    But notably two MPs from President Macron’s LREM party, who recently passed a law against “fake news” were not very quick to check this pseudo-information either.

    “Jean-Luc Mélenchon moved over to the dark side,” said Jacques Marilossian. On LCI, his colleague Natalia Pouzyreff, an LREM elected official of Yvelines, also maintained that “Eric Drouet is a sympathizer of the National Front or the National Rally”.

    The general delegate of youth with Macron’s party, Martin Bohmert, also joined the mud-slinging fake news contest.

    Drouet has meanwhile raised the possibility of legal action. He was arrested once again on Wednesday evening in Paris for the “organisation of an event without prior notice”. He was arrested by police on Wednesday night as he was heading towards the Champs Élysées in Paris, where several Yellow Vests had been waiting for him. Drouet was on his way to lay candles at Place de la Concorde.

    His lawyer said the group intended only to light candles for the people injured during demonstrations or killed during the six weeks of protests which began in November as a fuel tax revolt but morphed into a movement against the Macron.

    His lawyer denounced his arrest as “totally unjustified and arbitrary”. Drouet said he had been on his way to a restaurant with four others when they were picked up during his arrest. “I wasn’t wearing a yellow vest, just walking on the pavement,” he explained and added that the arrest was “incomprehensible”.

    Speaking of the ongoing protests, he said: “With or without me, it will continue.”

    “It wasn’t a call for a demonstration,” he explained, denying accusations that he had called for a rally on the main avenue in Paris. “Everything that has happened here, it’s political,” he said.

    Drouet, a truck driver, already faces trial in June for “carrying a prohibited category D weapon”, after he was allegedly found with a wooden stick during one protest.

    The economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, defended Drouet’s arrest, saying: “It’s called respecting the rule of law … It’s normal that when you break the laws of the republic, you face the consequences.”

    Mélenchon, a fierce critic of Macron, defended Drouet in a Tweet: “Again Eric Drouet arrested, why? Abuse of power. A politicised police targeting and harassing the leaders of the Yellow Vest movement.”

    Benjamin Cauchy, also a Yellow Vest spokesman, said: “Unfortunately I have the impression that the government wants to radicalise the movement. The executive is pouring oil on the fire. They’ve just put another coin in the jukebox and the gilets jaunes song is going to go on playing, that’s for sure.”

    Macron’s head of media relations, Sylvain Fort, has meanwhile announced that he was leaving for “personal reasons”. Fort was Macron’s chief speech-writer, but the Benalla affair has begun to wear down the president’s inner circle.

    According to a poll by Odoxa Dentsu Consulting for Franceinfo and French daily Le Figaro, three quarters of the French are dissatisfied with the action of the executive.

    Even though 2019 is just beginning, the tone has been set: according to the poll published on Thursday, January 3, 75 percent of French citizens are dissatisfied with the action of the government. By way of comparison, this negative view of the executive was only shared by 59 percent of respondents in April 2018.

    Dissatisfaction is even greater among socialist sympathizers (90 percent), those of LFI (89 percent), the National Rally (96 percent) and Republicans (77 percent). In Macron’s party, the LREM unsurprisingly, some 86 percent are satisfied with the actions of the government.

    This massive disavowal is also observed when one asks the French about the image of the main ministers, credited with only 21 percent of favorable opinions on average. The worst in the poll: Édouard Philippe and Christophe Castaner, who each respectively have a negative 54 percent and 53 percent rating.

    Some 55 percent of respondents want the movement of Yellow Vests to continue. A higher proportion was noted among respondents who are the most modest (72 percent), while the wealthy (61 percent) want the mobilization to stop.

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