Germany coronavirus: Hundreds arrested in German ‘anti-corona’ protests
Police in Berlin have arrested 300 demonstrators during protests against Germany’s coronavirus restrictions.
Some 38,000 people took to the streets in the city for mostly peaceful demonstrations.
About 200 people were arrested at one rally, which the authorities blamed on right-wing agitators who were said to have thrown rocks and bottles.
Similar rallies took places in other European cities with some demonstrators calling the virus a hoax.
Thousands gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square to protest against issues including coronavirus restrictions and 5G. Signs reading “masks are muzzles” and “new normal = new fascism” were held up.
Similar protests took place in Paris, Vienna and Zurich.
What happened in Germany?
Police ordered one group near the Brandenburg Gate to disperse for flouting safety rules, then arrested 200 after rocks and bottles were thrown.
“Unfortunately, we have no other option,” Berlin police said on Twitter. “All the measures taken so far have not led to compliance with the conditions.”
Protesters were closely packed in places, and sat together on the ground at one point.
A second group of about 30,000 met peacefully close by to hear speeches.Among those arrested was cookery author and conspiracy theorist Attila Hildmann, who had addressed crowds through a loudspeaker.
Although Germany has so far not seen the wave of cases affecting some parts of Europe, its infection rate has been growing. New case numbers are reaching highs last seen in April.
Who was involved in the Berlin protests?
Mr Geisel said people protesting outside the Russian Embassy on Unter den Linden were “right-wing extremists” and that seven police officers had been injured.
Some protesters then broke through a cordon at the Reichstag building and were dispersed by police using pepper spray.German news site Deutsche Welle reported that flags and T-shirts supporting the far right could be seen among the crowd.
The demonstration to the west of the Gate at the Victory Column was organised by the Stuttgart-based movement Querdenken 711 (or Lateral Thinking 711). The group has more than 16,000 followers on Facebook and communicates largely through encrypted messaging service Telegram.
It believes that coronavirus regulations infringe on basic rights and freedoms enshrined in Germany’s constitution and wants them to be lifted.
The group previously organised a protest in Berlin on 1 August dubbed the “day of freedom”. Thousands joined, including some from the far right and some conspiracy theorists who do not believe Covid-19 exists.