According to a number of experts that Sputnik France talked to, potentially dangerous elements for the meat-loving nation may number up to several hundred individuals. In the meantime, animal rights campaigners are protesting against what they call excessive police measures.
“Activists that take an unbending stance on the issue are not that easy to determine. There may be several dozen or hundreds of them,” noted Éric Denécé, head of the French intelligence research center (Centre français de recherche sur le renseignement – CF2R) and the author of the book “Ecoterrorism, anti-globalism, ecology, animalism: from protest to violence.”
He went on to say that these activists constitute “a worrisome social layer,” which is “by far not sufficiently monitored by the authorities, the general directorate for internal security (Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure – DGSI) and the Central Territorial Security Service (Service central du renseignement territorial – SCRT).”
This “threat has been there in France for nearly 10 years already, and even longer abroad.” Some countries have even blacklisted them: “In the US and Britain there are even special police departments in charge of battling these people,” Denécé concluded.
“Among leftist extremists there is an ecological movement, which has gained considerable ground since the 1960s: it enjoys an increasing number of supporters and it resorts to violence more and more frequently. This is happening in the US, in Germany, and now in France. The vegan movement sprang to existence right afterwards,” Gérald Arboi, R&D Director at CF2R, told Sputnik.
In the meantime, representatives from associations that support animal protection, try to distance themselves from such radical protest measures.
Sputnik has discussed the matter with Brigitte Gothière, co-founder of association called L214, which films shocking episodes at animal slaughterhouses, but claims it has nothing to do with the attacks on butcher shops.
“[Vandalism] is not the very actions that we would love to promote. (…) we believe that this may split the ranks [of the vegan movement.]”
“Our video clips shot at farms and slaughterhouses reflect the reality as it is, and it is being concealed from ordinary people. It is not vegan activists who are to blame for the attacks; they want to get the ball rolling and impact legislation and people’s mindset. […] ”
She most enthusiastically continued:
“The more animals are killed, the more decisively people will protest it (…) Meanwhile, intensive farming is being lobbied in the country’s parliament and government.”
Vegetarianism and the even stricter trend, veganism, have gained momentum in the nation, which has traditionally boasted meat delicacies as part of its national cuisine, like boeuf bourguignon and foie gras. The trend is therefore believed to be due to a surge in animal rights activism that is spreading on social networks and in the mass media.
In June, French butchers sent an open letter to the country’s interior minister claiming their lives were in danger and seeking official police protection from “intimidating” vegan campaigners wishing “to impose their lifestyle on the immense majority” of the largely meat-loving nation. The butchers increasingly cited a much publicized incident when several butcher shops were sprayed with fake blood in the Hauts-de-France region of northern France in April.
Meanwhile, vegan legislative initiatives, such as a partial introduction of vegetarian lunch options in schools, proved unpopular in the parliament and were subsequently blocked.