Arnaud, a homeless man, wears a "security badge" during a demonstration in front of the City Hall of Marseille, southern France Photo: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP
The southern French city of Marseille has been forced to scrap a system of yellow triangles intended to help spot homeless people after it was accused of employing Nazi-style tactics.
The cards, which were handed out to homeless people, detail their health issues and are bright yellow in order to be easily spotted.
But human rights groups and government ministers have criticised the "yellow triangle cards" in France's second city, saying they are "stigmatising", and hark back to the Star of David sewn onto Jewish people's clothes during the Holocaust.
La Ligue des droits de l'Homme, a human rights group, said it was troubled by the resemblance "of this card and the yellow star that the Jews had to wear during the Second World War."
The Socialist government was appalled. Marisol Touraine, the social affairs minister, said: "I'm shocked. Forcing homeless people to carry a yellow triangle indicating the illnesses they might have is outrageous. You don't point the finger at the poorest.
"You don't write their illnesses on their clothes. Medical confidentiality, in particular, is a fundamental right. I want this local initiative to be stopped," she told Le Parisien.
The card and triangle, an initiative of Marseille's town hall and social services, identifies the person with his or her photo, name and date of birth. It also details a person's illnesses or allergies.
The aim, local authorities, said, was to help health workers quickly provide aid to a homeless person who falls ill. More than 100 triangles have been distributed already.
On Wednesday, about 100 activists and homeless people protested against the initiative outside the city's town hall.
Marseille town hall has dismissed criticism, insisting "the card that saves lives". One of Marseille's deputy mayors Xavier Mery said: "I'm appalled by the absurd controversy surrounding this help card distributed by the Samu (social medical emergency services)."
However, facing with the rising controversy, Samu chief, René Giancarli, said last night: "We are going to change the look of this card. Our aim was only to come to the aid of the destitute as efficiently as possible. I really didn't see this row coming."
Credit to The Telegraph