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28 Jan, 2024 15:39

Protesters throw soup at Mona Lisa (VIDEO)

The two activists said their stunt at the Louvre museum was a call for food security, as farmers protest across France
Protesters throw soup at Mona Lisa (VIDEO)

Two activists hurled pumpkin soup at the bulletproof glass protecting Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, at the Louvre museum in Paris on Sunday. 

They passed under a security barrier, drawing gasps from visitors, while wearing T-shirts with the message: ‘FOOD RIPOSTE’ (food response).

“What’s the most important thing? Art, or the right to healthy and sustainable food?,” they shouted, claiming that “our farming system is sick. Our farmers are dying at work.”

The Louvre security guards put up black screens in front of them before evacuating the room. The museum said the early 16th century painting was not damaged by the pumpkin soup, and that a complaint would be lodged.

The incident at the world’s most visited museum occurred at around 10:00 local time in the Salle des Etats. The section reopened to visitors an hour and a half later.

The Riposte Alimentaire (Food Retaliation) group, which advocates for action on climate change and sustainable agriculture, claimed responsibility for the stunt. The group demanded the establishment of “Sustainable Food Social Security” in a statement on X (formerly Twitter). They called for a food card worth €150 ($162) to be given to French citizens each month.The French minister of culture Rachida Dati condemned the soup-throwing, saying that “no cause could justify [the Mona Lisa] being attacked.” 

Farmers have been blocking roads with tractors and trucks in several parts of France, in a movement that started last week. They are protesting against high taxes on tractor fuel, cheap imports, price pressure from retailers, a shortage of water, and excessive red tape on both the national and EU levels.

The French government has been promising for months to introduce a law that would support farmers. Despite some concessions from the government on Friday, Arnaud Rousseau, the head of the biggest farming union FNSEA, said they did not fully meet expectations. Farmers are threatening to blockade Paris starting Monday.

There have been a rash of widely publicized attacks by climate change protesters on artworks such as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Monet’s Les Meules. The Mona Lisa was also targeted in the past.

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