Activists throw pumpkin soup at ‘Mona Lisa’

Henry

On Sunday morning, two protesters threw pumpkin soup at the glass screen depicting Leonardo da Vinci Mona Lisa protected in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The two women demand the right to “healthy and sustainable food”.

“What is more important? Art or the right to healthy and sustainable food?” asked the activists as they stood in front of the painting and took turns talking.

“Your agricultural system is sick. Our farmers are dying at work,” the two women said before being escorted out of the Louvre by security personnel.

According to a police source, the two activists have been in custody since then.

According to the Louvre museum, the women smuggled the pumpkin soup into the museum in a coffee thermos.

Small amounts of food are allowed inside the museum. However, visitors are not allowed to eat in the exhibition rooms.

The museum has since confirmed that the Mona Lisa was not damaged at the time of the incident. The room that houses the masterpiece was also reopened after it had been closed for about an hour.

A group called Riposte Alimentaire (“Food Counterattack”) claimed responsibility for the incident.

They also said the incident was just the “beginning of a campaign of civil resistance with the clear demand… of the social security of sustainable food”.

They referred to a survey of 996 people last year by the Ipsos polling group which found that one in three French people could not always afford enough healthy food for three meals a day.

Till van Elst, a member of the Riposte Alimentaire, said the group wants the state to allow people to buy certain selected food items at reduced rates by means of a specialized social security card.

“We want citizens to really be able to… decide what’s on their plates,” Van Elst told AFP.

Rachida Dati, the French culture minister, criticized the soup incident.

“The Mona Lisa, as our heritage, belongs to future generations. No cause can justify targeting it,” Dati wrote on X.

This is not the first time that the Mona Lisa among activists.

The latest attack comes shortly after French farmers blocked major roads to Paris on Friday in protest against poor pay, high taxes and strict regulations.

The French government has meanwhile made a number of concessions to trade unions for farmers.

These concessions include that the government will pay attention to rising diesel prices, which are the result of certain tax concessions which are gradually being phased out. An emergency fund will also be started to assist cattle farmers when their animals fall ill.

Gabriel Attal, the French prime minister, announced these measures on Friday on a cattle farm in the south-west of France.