As the world continues to fight against the deadly pandemic, many people are protesting against the coronavirus restrictions implemented to contain the spread of the virus. In Germany, thousands of protestors gathered at the capital on Saturday, August 29 with signs suggesting COVID-19 is not a serious, or even real, issue.
Though the rally had originally been banned, NBC News reports that protest organizers successfully appealed the decision. A court ordered the protesters to socially distance, but, as police reports state, these safety guidelines were ignored. Since many protesters were standing close to one another and not wearing masks, police dispersed the rally after about an hour, The New York Times states.
Far-right groups threatened violence, but most marchers peacefully dispersed and moved to a park nearby. In other protests around Berlin, BBC News reports, some of these extremists threw stones and bottles at police officers, 7 of whom were injured outside the Russian Embassy. After some far-right extremists tried to storm the German parliament, Berlin police intervened and forcibly removed the protestors, according to ABC.
With just under 10,000 deaths, Germany is managing the pandemic extremely well, having some of the lowest numbers among other European countries. According to Foreign Policy, global admiration has increased the government’s approval rating, pushing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s approval rating up to 71 percent. Surprisingly, even opinion polls show overwhelming support for strict adherence to the safety guidelines, ABC reports. However, it is evident from these protests that a vocal part of the German population is dissatisfied with the government’s response.
“This is a serious matter, as serious as it’s ever been, and you need to carry on taking it seriously,” Merkel said of the virus. The chancellor urges citizens to stay safe by following guidelines, but some are displeased with the current situation.
Though schools are reopening and signs of an economic rebound are evident, the long lockdowns in the spring caused great economic damage and left millions without jobs. Many of these protesters are angry and believe that the lockdowns are violating the rights and freedoms established in the German constitution, BBC explains. As Foreign Policy reports, parliamentary motions arguing that fundamental rights have been taken away from the people were submitted by the AfD (Alternative for Germany), a far-right political party.
“It’s probably the first time in 2,000 years that Easter church services had to be canceled because of an infectious disease,” says Pastor Dietmar Schwesig. Many were complacent with the restrictions put in place to reduce the spread of infection until it affected important aspects of their personal lives, such as religious practices.
Germany, however, is not the only country to face protests. Protesters in London and Paris are aggravated with the current state of the global community, seeing “no medical justification” to the restrictions and guidelines, seeing it instead as “medical tyranny,” Euro News reports. Only the future can tell how the German government, and the governments of other countries, will face rising infection rates among their populations.