Angela Merkel is under fire after thousands of Germans turned out for rallies taking place across the country to protest against the Chancellor’s lockdown orders. German police arrested dozens in Berlin on Saturday after the protesters there flouted the lockdown measures they were demonstrating against. Both left-wing and right-wing protesters criticised Mrs Merkel’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with slogans accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel of “banning life”.
Around 180 police officers were scrambled to the event, which ended with more than 100 people arrested.
Police officials cracked down on protesters, urging them to disperse after explaining that the gathering “was not in line with the rules”.
The German capital is now under emergency laws that ban gatherings of more than 20 people.
The protesters’ website called for “an end to the state of emergency” since Germany has one of the fewest death tolls for the virus.
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Earlier this week, Angela Merkel had warned that the country is easing social distancing measures too quickly.
In a speech to the German Parliament, Mrs Merkel said “we are in for the long haul” and that “we must not lost energy”.
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has previously condemned Mrs Merkel of exaggerating the risk posed by the virus and has called for the immediate reopening of all businesses.
Elsewhere in Europe, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Austria in defiance of a police ban against the gathering.
Around 200 people took to central Vienna to protest the restrictions that have been in place for more than a month.
The protest’s organisers, the Initiative for Evidence-Based Corona Information (ICI), argue that making face masks compulsory in shops and on public transport is counter-productive.
They have warned their protests against the lockdown will intenisfy, with “a new, bigger demo” in just a week’s time.
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Earlier this week, riots erupted in Parisian suburbs for four consecutive nights as the lockdown sparked social unrest.
On Tuesday night, crowds of youths in Villeneuve-La-Garenne, north of the capital, torched cars and threw fireworks at riot police.
Anger also erupted along the Polish-German border after Polish residents who work in Germany protested against the border closure with many chanting to let them work.
Poland was one of the first European Union states to close borders due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
Anti-lockdown protests have not become as common in Europe as they have in the United States, where protesters have regularly taken to the streets in several states.
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