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Yellow Vests Emmanuel Macron gilets jaunes Protests

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Backlash after Macron tells hurt, elderly protester to 'find wisdom'

Geneviève Legay, 73, lies injured during a Yellow Vest protest in central Nice. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

French President Emmanuel Macron has been accused of lacking empathy after telling an elderly Yellow Vest (gilet-jaune) protester who was badly hurt during a protest that she was at fault for being there in the first place.

Genevieve Legay, a 73-year-old grandmother and anti-capitalism activist, suffered a fractured skull during a police charge against protesters in Nice on the weekend.

Activist Genevieve Legay protesting in Nice before she was injured on 23 March, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Macron, who was in the area on Sunday for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, told the local Nice-Matin newspaper: "When one is fragile and risks being shoved, one does not go to places that are declared off-limits and one does not put oneself in a situation like that."

He added that he wished Legay a "speedy recovery, and perhaps a degree of wisdom".

Legay's family, who have filed a legal complaint, said Macron’s response was "crass and insensitive". They also accused riot police of using excessive force to disperse the protesters.

Prosecutors in Nice have opened an inquiry to try and establish what happened when Legay was injured.

France's fifth-biggest city, Nice was one of a dozen cities to ban the Yellow Vests from protesting in central areas following violet riots in Paris.