TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – A large protest in Berlin against mandatory mask rules and other anti-coronavirus measures ended in clashes and arrests, after police ordered the demonstrators to disperse for refusing to obey social distancing guidelines.
Police estimate up to 20,000 people attended Saturday’s march through the German capital, with some reports putting the figure far higher, RT reported.
Demonstrators, most of them not wearing masks, carried placards with slogans against Covid-19 restrictions, vaccinations, and face “muzzles.” Officers intervened several hours into the protest, claiming that the participants were not adhering to social distancing rules.
Several arrests were made after some of the demonstrators refused to leave the area. Footage shows some of the activists being carried away by police in riot gear.
Protesters who came from across the country held up homemade signs with slogans like “Corona, false alarm,” “We are being forced to wear a muzzle,” “Natural defense instead of vaccination” and “We are the second wave.”
They chanted, “We’re here and we’re loud, because we are being robbed of our freedom!”
Police used bullhorns to chide participants to adhere to social distancing rules and to wear masks, apparently with little success. They tweeted that they drew up a criminal complaint against the rally’s organizer for failing to enforce hygiene rules, then said shortly afterward that the organizer had ended the march.
Protests against anti-virus restrictions in Germany have drawn a variety of attendees, including conspiracy theorists and right-wing populists.
Unlike the US, Brazil and Britain, Germany’s government has been praised worldwide for its management of the pandemic. The country’s death toll — just over 9,150 people out of more than 210,670 confirmed virus cases as of Saturday — is five times less than Britain’s, which has a smaller population.
The German government has been easing lockdown measures since late April but social distancing rules remain, as does a requirement to wear masks on public transit and in shops.
Officials have been warning against complacency as the number of new COVID-19 cases has crept up recently. Amid concerns about residents bringing home infections from summer trips abroad, officials introduced free tests for people entering the country.
Germany’s national disease control center registered 955 new cases Friday, a high figure by recent standards.