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Increasingly divisive, Greta Thunberg is no longer afraid of arrests

A surprise visit.

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Increasingly divisive, Greta Thunberg is no longer afraid of arrests

A surprise visit. The No Macadam collective, which is fighting against the A69 motorway project, announced on Friday the arrival of climate activist Greta Thunberg, this Saturday, February 10, in Saïx, in Tarn, for a weekend raising awareness of environmental issues. A visit which did not fail to irritate the president of the Tarn Departmental Council, Christophe Ramond, who declared that the department had “no lessons to learn in terms of sustainable development”.

And this, even though the prefect banned this weekend's gathering citing "risks of major disturbances to public order." But the young woman, who is now 21 years old, is not at her first stroke of brilliance, especially in recent months. His year 2023 was indeed marked by successive arrests for actions of civil disobedience, marking a radical turning point in his approach: from protest to direct action.

In January 2023, the young Swede was arrested during a rally against the expansion of a coal mine in Lützerath, a village located in western Germany. Environmental protesters had been carrying out actions in the area for several days despite several police interventions and various scuffles.

In the images, we see the activist being escorted by three police officers carrying her at arm's length and legs. These photos, which went around the world, were only the first in a long series of arrests of the activist during illegal gatherings.

Last October, Greta Thunberg was this time fined 5,500 crowns (476 euros) by the Malmö court for “disobedience to public order”. On July 24, a few weeks after graduating from high school, she participated in the blockade of the port of the small coastal town in southern Sweden.

Almost a month before this arrest, on June 19, 2023, the young Swede was arrested by the police while blocking the same access to the port to protest against the use of fossil fuels. She had refused to obey the orders of the police.

In February 2023, it was in London that the activist found herself before Westminster Magistrates Court, for “disturbing public order”. She was arrested during a demonstration against the hydrocarbon industry which was held in the British capital.

And if the judge finally decided to abandon the proceedings against the young environmentalist, considering that the police had not been sufficiently precise in sending their instructions, Greta Thunberg once again declared that she had acted “out of necessity”. By insisting on the “legitimacy” of its actions in the face of the climate emergency. “Even though we are the ones standing here, ... environmental and human rights activists around the world are being prosecuted ... for acting in accordance with science. We must remember who the real enemy is,” she insisted from London on February 1.

But it is not so much the radicalization of his ecological fight - which corresponds to a broader change in mode of action which affects the entire ecological movement - as his positions on the conflict between Israel and Hamas which have has been controversial in recent months. Since October 7, the day of the terrorist group's bloody attack against the Jewish state which left more than 1,300 dead and hundreds of hostages, the activist has spoken out on the conflict several times.

On his X account, followed by nearly 20 million Internet users, there are daily publications on the increase in temperature on the earth's surface and on the “liberation of Palestine”. The two “causes” are sometimes even the subject of joint publications, as in a photo from December 22, taken on the occasion of the weekly Friday strike, where the banner for “the school strike for the climate” was brandished alongside a Palestinian flag and a “Free Palestine” poster. “We are striking in solidarity with Palestine and Gaza,” commented on several occasions the 21-year-old young woman, who did not hesitate to call for “crushing Zionism” in front of the Israeli embassy in Stockholm on November 22, 2023. .

But it was a photo taken on the occasion of the first “strike” for Palestine which caused the embarrassment, even anger, of many European environmental activists. It is more precisely the appearance of a stuffed octopus, an animal considered an anti-Semitic symbol because it was used in the 1930s in numerous caricatures denouncing the fantasized influence of Jewish lobbies on society, which caused anger.

If Greta Thunberg assured that she was “completely ignorant” of the meaning of this animal, the episode sparked numerous controversies, particularly in Germany where support for Israel is unanimous due to the country's historical responsibility in the Shoah. The Israeli embassy said it was saddened to see “that Greta Thunberg was using the climate scene for personal purposes”.

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