“Take off the masks”, “no compulsory vaccination”, or “return of freedoms!”: Several thousand demonstrators demanded Saturday in Berlin for the abolition of restrictive measures to fight the Covid-19, whose new infections nevertheless worry the authorities.
Estimated at some 17,000 by the police, the participants in this motley procession bringing together “free thinkers”, anti-vaccine activists, conspiracy activists or even far-right sympathizers, were ultimately much less numerous than the 500,000 announced by the organizers of this mobilization entitled “the end of the pandemic – Freedom Day “.
The mask rarely worn
Among those who were heading in the heat towards the Brandenburg Gate, several chanted “we are the second wave”, “resistance” or “the biggest conspiracy theory is the pandemic of the new coronavirus”. Few of them wore a mask and the normally mandatory five foot physical distancing was not respected.
“If physical distancing cannot be applied, we will continue to speak to the organizer of the event and this may indeed lead to the dissolution of the demonstration,” warned German capital police spokesman Thilo Cablitz. .
Shortly thereafter, and despite repeated calls from the police asking protesters using megaphones to respect barrier gestures, the police announced on Twitter that they had “filed a complaint” against the organizer of the event due to “non-compliance with hygiene rules”.
“I don’t see any danger with the virus at all”
These should disappear, say the demonstrators for whom the health crisis is now over.
“It’s a pure fear tactic: I don’t see any danger with the virus at all. I don’t know other sick people. I have known a lot of sick people in March, skiers, vacationers, it happens. There was really something going on in February, but now there are no more patients, ”said Iris Bitzenmeier.
An opinion shared by Anna-Maria Wetzel, who arrived with about fifteen friends from Baden-Württemberg (south-west) where she has already participated in several similar gatherings in Stuttgart.
“People who don’t educate themselves, unlike us, remain ignorant and believe what the government is telling them. They go into fear that the government is putting in our heads. And fear weakens the immune system, “she claims.
Several counter-demonstrators, including a procession of “grandmothers against the extreme right”, called these activists “Nazis”.
A mobilization criticized by several political leaders
The motto of the protest, “Freedom Day”, is also the title of a film by Nazi director Leni Riefenstahl about Adolf Hitler’s NSDAP party conference in 1935.
Several politicians have criticized this mobilization. Saskia Esken, head of the Social Democrats, a minority party in the government coalition with Angela Merkel’s conservatives, criticized these “Covidiots”.
“Without distance, without mask: they do not only endanger our health, but also our success against the pandemic and for the revival of the economy, education and society. Irresponsible!”, A- she writes on Twitter.
Jan Redmann, leader of the CDU in the Parliament of the Land of Brandenburg, estimated on this same social network: “1,000 new infections a day again and in Berlin there are demonstrations against anti-coronavirus measures? allow such dangerous absurdities “.
Less than 9,200 dead in the country
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer showed him more understanding towards them in an interview with Passauer Neue Presse:
“Of course there are always different opinions when it comes to infringements of fundamental rights and restrictions on liberty. But first of all, it is normal and then, in my opinion, it is not. ‘is not the majority “.
If Germany has so far been rather spared from the pandemic which has killed less than 9,200 people, the authorities are alarmed by a slow resumption of infections. On Saturday, their number increased by 955 from the previous day, a level that had not been reached since May 9, according to the Robert Koch Health Institute.