Thousands march in Berlin in opposition to coronavirus curbs

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BERLIN (Reuters) – Thousands marched in Berlin on Saturday to protest in opposition to measures imposed in Germany to stem the coronavirus pandemic, saying they violated individuals’s rights and freedoms.

The gathering, estimated by police at 17,000, included libertarians, constitutional loyalists and anti-vaccination activists. There was additionally a small far-right presence with some marchers carrying Germany’s black, white and pink imperial flag.

Protesters danced and sang ‘We are free individuals!’ to the tune of rock band Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’. Others marched with placards saying ‘We are making a noise since you are stealing our freedom!’ and ‘Do suppose! Don’t put on a masks!’.

“Our demand is to return to democracy,” stated one protester who declined to present his title. “The mask that enslaves us must go.”

The protests adopted a rallying name from Michael Ballweg, an entrepreneur and political outsider who has organised related rallies in Stuttgart and is working to turn out to be mayor of the southwestern metropolis.

Police filed a criticism in opposition to the organiser for failing to make sure marchers wore masks and stored their distance. Mainstream politicians criticised the protesters, with Social Democrat co-leader Saskia Esken calling them “covidiots”.

“They not only endanger our health, they endanger our successes against the pandemic,” tweeted Esken, whose get together is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition associate.

After Germany’s preliminary success in curbing the pandemic, infections are rising once more. More than 200,000 individuals have caught COVID-19 and nearly 1,000 have died from it.

Most individuals in Germany have revered measures that embrace carrying face masks in outlets, whereas the federal government has simply imposed necessary exams for holidaymakers coming back from high-risk areas.

But a vocal minority is chafing in opposition to the restrictions.

“Only a few scientists around the world who follow the government’s lead are heard,” stated protester Peter Konz. Those who maintain completely different views “are silenced, censored or discredited as defenders of conspiracy theories”.

(Reporting by Reuters TV, Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Giles Elgood)