A statue of the Virgin Mary outside a church in Germany has been desecrated by vandals who placed an anti-coronavirus mask on its face.
Police have launched a manhunt to find the people responsible for beheading the statue in the Jesuit Church in Straubing, Lower Bavaria, Southern Germany,
The artwork’s head was found late last month in the street outside the church, wearing a disposable surgical mask, by a police officer on his way to work.
The officer then went inside and found the headless body of the Virgin Mary statue.
According to local media, the head apparently had a surgical mask over its mouth and nose, leading to local suspicion that the vandals were trying to protest against Germany's Covid-19 measures.
Pastor Vasile Reut said: “I have great sadness in my heart.
"I feel great horror and feel that it is harassment.
"Whoever did this has nothing to do with God.
"It doesn't matter whether someone has something against the church or against Corona – you mustn't damage someone else's property.
"One behaves differently in the church. "
A photo of the headless statue was posted on the Regensburg Diocese Facebook page has since gone viral with hundreds of thousands of responses, comments and shares by people condemning the "sad" act of vandalism".
More than 20,000 people, most of them unmasked, gathered in the German city of Leipzig on Saturday, November 7, for a protest that turned violent.
Demonstrators threw stones and fireworks at police when they were asked to don masks and observe social distancing rules.
"Nothing can justify what was seen in Leipzig," Germany’s Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht wrote on Twitter.
"The mockery of science and the far-right incitement we've seen are appalling.”
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas added that protesters who were endangering their fellow-Germans, attacking police and journalists, spreading extreme-right hate and setting barricades on fire had placed themselves outside the protections guaranteed for peaceful protest under Germany’s constitution.
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