PARIS, FRANCE: Protesters in Paris targeted the iconic “Mona Lisa” painting on Sunday (28 Jan), throwing soup at it in an act of vandalism.
Fortunately, the masterpiece was shielded from damage by its protective glass casing.
The environmental group behind the protest, Riposte Alimentaire, claimed responsibility for the action via social media.
The two individuals involved, aged 24 and 63, initiated the protest at 10 a.m local time.
A video capturing the incident shows the demonstrators hurling orange-colored soup from bottles, then taking cover beneath a protective barrier to address onlookers.
Since the video was shared, it has garnered over 70 thousand views on Twitter.
Par leur action non violente, Sasha (24ans) et Marie-Juliette (63ans) exigent la mise en place d'une Sécurité Sociale de l'Alimentation Durable. 
— Riposte Alimentaire (@riposte_alim) January 28, 2024
One of them questioned, “What is more important: art or the right to a healthy and sustainable diet?”
The activists proceeded to duck under a barrier surrounding the painting and revealed the name of their group, Riposte Alimentaire, on their t-shirts.
They raised their hands, seemingly taking an oath, and advocated for “healthy and sustainable” food.
Museum staff swiftly intervened, employing black shields to obscure the scene while onlookers expressed dismay.
Louvre staff members were quick to evacuate the “Salle des Etats” room, home to the “Mona Lisa,” although the room has since reopened.
A statement from the museum reported that the two activists sprayed pumpkin soup on the armored glass protecting the painting, and security staff promptly intervened.
The Louvre announced its intention to file a complaint regarding the incident.
Activist group Riposte Alimentaire takes bold action at Louvre, advocates for food security reforms
Riposte Alimentaire is linked with the A22 Network, a group of activists known for disruptive climate protests.
Just Stop Oil, another A22 Network member, similarly targeted Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in London in 2022.
On their social media, Riposte Alimentaire explained their protest aimed to highlight unsustainable food practices and hunger in France.
They advocate for integrating food into the general social security system.
The incident at the Louvre occurred amid widespread protests by French farmers addressing pay, competition, and government regulations.
Riposte Alimentaire used social media to spotlight societal challenges related to the food system, including environmental and economic issues.
The group pointed out that food production significantly contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about a quarter.
Their posts highlighted food insecurity in France, as a report from last year stated that 38% of Europeans no longer eat three meals a day.
Riposte Alimentaire argued that the agricultural system is flawed, causing financial strain on farmers and even suicides.
Presently, French farmers are staging nationwide protests, blocking roads, and threatening to converge on the capital, demanding better pay and living conditions.
In response to what they see as “serious food insecurity,” Riposte Alimentaire proposed adding food to the social security safety net.
They suggested providing residents with a monthly card worth 150 euros (US$162.5) to purchase “democratically selected” pre-approved products.
French Culture Minister condemns Louvre protest as police make arrests
In response to the incident involving the ‘Mona Lisa,’ French Culture Minister Rachida Dati expressed her condemnation of the Louvre protest on Twitter (28 Jan).
La Joconde, comme notre patrimoine, appartient aux générations futures.
Aucune cause ne peut justifier qu’il soit pris pour cible !
J’adresse tout mon soutien aux personnels du @museeLouvre.
— Rachida Dati ن (@datirachida) January 28, 2024
She emphasized the cultural significance of the Mona Lisa and the broader heritage, asserting that both belong to future generations and should not be targeted for any cause.
Continuing her statement, Dati extended her support to the staff of @museeLouvre.
This gesture underscored her solidarity with the museum’s team in the wake of the disruptive event.
Additionally, Paris police confirmed the arrest of two individuals in connection with the vandalism, as reported by the Associated Press.
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