Slows down protests in Lebanon, France and Germany
Opponents of pandemic restrictions and vaccination warrants have rallied in the streets of Lebanon, France, Germany and Austria.
Hundreds of people marched in Beirut on Saturday to protest measures imposed on unvaccinated people, saying individuals should have the right to decide whether or not to be vaccinated.
Vaccination is not compulsory in Lebanon, but in recent days authorities have cracked down on people who are not vaccinated or who do not carry a negative PCR test.
Saturday’s protest of nearly 300 people in downtown Beirut came a day after the daily number of new coronavirus cases hit a record 7,974.
The protest came days after authorities imposed new restrictions – including requiring a vaccination certificate or negative PCR test for entry to restaurants, hotels and similar places.
As of Monday, officials must either be vaccinated or undergo regular PCR tests to be able to get to work.
Many officials cannot afford to pay for regular PCR tests, given Lebanon’s severe economic crisis.
“No to the dictatorship of vaccination”, one could read on a banner carried by demonstrators.
Health Minister Firass Abiad criticized the protesters, saying more than 20,000 people had been vaccinated on Saturday alone as part of a government campaign focused on students and teachers.
Protesters also gathered in cities across France on Saturday, denouncing President Emmanuel Macron’s intention to “piss off” people refusing COVID-19 injections by tightening restrictions on their civil liberties.
Macron said this week he wanted to irritate unvaccinated people by making their lives so complicated that they would end up getting stung.
Unvaccinated people are irresponsible and unworthy of being seen as citizens, he added.
In Paris, the demonstrators responded by adopting its slang formulation, chanting “We’re going to piss you off”.
Others carried signs saying “No to the vaccine pass,” a reference to Macron’s legislative pressure to require proof of vaccination to enter places such as cafes, bars and museums.
Protesters also gathered in the streets of Marseille, Nantes and Le Mans, among other cities.
“(Macron’s remarks) were the last straw. We are not irresponsible,” said hospital administrator Virginie Houget, who avoided a mandatory vaccine order for health workers because she caught COVID-19 late last year.
Protesters accuse Macron of trampling on their freedoms and treating citizens unequally.
He says freedoms come with responsibilities that include protecting the health of others.
France recorded more than 300,000 new coronavirus infections for the second time in a week on Friday.
Meanwhile, several thousand people demonstrated in German cities on Saturday against policies aimed at containing the pandemic.
The biggest event took place in Hamburg, where 16,000 people attended, police said.
Organizers initially expected 11,000 people to attend the rally, held under the banner “Enough! Hands off our children ”.
Organizers called on participants to wear masks and keep their distance, according to the rules, although some did not answer the call.
One participant wore a Star of David with the inscription “unvaccinated,” according to a police tweet.
Officers added they were investigating incitement.
Big events were also expected across the country, especially in the cities of Magdeburg, Freiburg, Ansbach, Regensburg and Schwerin.
About 1,600 people have gathered in the northern town of Schwerin, police said, and 2,000 are expected, organizers said.
A banner at the head of the procession read “Parents and grandparents say !!! NO !!! to Covid-19 vaccinations for children! “.
Drums and trumpets accompanied the march.
In Berlin, a protest against the coronavirus took the form of a convoy of cars and bicycles.
Police counted more than 100 vehicles, 70 bicycles and around 200 people in total.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said arguments put forward by vaccine opponents and COVID-19 skeptics had lost all measure and focus.
“A small group is ready to wipe all scientific knowledge off the table and voluntarily enter a bubble of false truths,” he said, calling it a new and frightening development in post-German history. war.
About 40,000 people demonstrated in Vienna on Saturday against government measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic, including a vaccine mandate intended for the general public.
Police said the protest was largely peaceful.
However, the officers had to briefly interrupt the march.
Some protesters attempted to cross the police barrier and some were arrested, police said.
More than 1,000 officers were deployed during the protest.
Vaccination is expected to become compulsory in Austria from next month.
Several similar large-scale protests have taken place across the country in recent weeks over this issue.
with AP and DPA reports