Monday May 23, 2022

Protests in Germany against coronavirus rules, anti-vax movement

Published : 17 Jan 2022, 01:16

  DF News Desk

Participants in a demonstration protest against the Corona policy with a banner reading "We work with heart not compulsory vaccination". More than 7000 opponents of compulsory Corona vaccination took part. Photo: David Young/dpa.

More than 1,000 people in Hamburg and around 2,500 people in Freiburg, in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, came out to protest against what organizers called "conspiracy ideologies," reported dpa

The Hamburg rally, billed as an event to promote "solidarity and enlightenment instead of conspiracy ideologies," was originally planned as a counter demonstration to a protest by anti-vaccination activists where up to 15,000 participants were expected.

Despite a police ban on the anti-vaccination event, thousands still gathered in front of the Hamburger Kunsthalle museum to protest Covid-19 measures. Police estimated there were around 3,000 participants in the afternoon. Most did not wear masks and scuffles broke out.

An administrative court had rejected an urgent appeal by the organizer to reverse the ban, which cited the danger of coronavirus spread as its grounds.

A large police presence was on the ground in both Hamburg and Freiburg on Saturday.

In Freiburg, the anti-conspiracy protesters were outnumbered by some 6,000 people demonstrating against containment measures.

The Freiburg police did not register any major incidents and said they were aiming to ensure that the two demonstrations did not get in each other's way.

In the western city of Dusseldorf, more than 7,000 people protested compulsory vaccination. A police spokesperson said in the evening that the demonstration was so far "peaceful and largely free of disturbances."

One participant was taken into custody for carrying a knife, found by the police during security checks after a violation of mask rules, and administrative offence proceedings were initiated in other dozens of cases.

The head of the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, meanwhile warned that a new type of threat is among those protesting Covid-19 government policy.

They can no longer be clearly categorized as far-right or far-left extremists, and are not united by any ideological bracket, but rather by contempt for the democratic constitutional state and its representatives, Haldenwang told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper.

"They fundamentally reject our democratic state system," Haldenwang said.

Haldenwang said these extremists do not need a specific topic and that the pandemic is only the latest topic they have latched onto.

"Whether it is the coronavirus, the refugee policy, or the flood disaster. Some of the same people were trying to give the impression that the state was failing and doing nothing," Haldenwang explained.