Tens of thousands of people –about 40,000 according to the police-, many without masks and without maintaining a safety distance, protested this Saturday in Vienna against the general confinement that begins on Monday in Austria and against mandatory vaccination.
The demonstration was called by the far-right party FPÖ -which estimated the participation in 100,000 people-, although its leader, Herbert Kickl, did not attend as he was in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus.
“Resistance”, “Corona-Fake”, “Freedom” or “Down with the crown dictatorship” andwere some of the slogans of a crowd that converged from different parts of the city in the historic center of Vienna, near the seat of the Government.
Protesters marched through the streets carrying Austrian flags, messages denying the existence of the disease and against vaccination and, in general, describing the restrictions against the coronavirus as dictatorial.
Although the protest unfolded peacefully, the police informed Efe of at least five arrests in isolated incidents such as throwing bottles and other objects at the agents. There have also been complaints about the use of nazi symbology, that in Austria it is a crime.
Among the reasons for these complaints – according to the newspaper Der Standard – was the use of stars of David with the word “not vaccinated” by some protesters.
The yellow star was the symbol the Nazis used to mark the Jews and their use by certain deniers of the pandemic involves comparing the measures against the covid with the Holocaust.
A person was also denounced for a banner comparing the current Christian Democrat Chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg, with Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who did experiments on inmates of the Auschwitz death camp.
The government of conservatives and ecologists headed by Schallenberg announced yesterday a confinement of 20 days from Monday. This step occurs when the contagion rate in Austria it is among the highest on the continent, with more than a thousand cases per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days.
In addition, to get out of the “vicious circle of confinements”, the Executive wants that from February 2022 the covid vaccine is mandatory for all residents in the country, where the immunization rate is 65.7%.
The Police deployed a large device with about 1,300 agents, who monitored the mandatory use of masks and carried out random checks of the covid certificate -which proves to be vaccinated or to have passed the disease-, since in Austria a confinement for the unimmunized has been in force since last Monday.
Ibuprofen against Covid
The far-right FPÖ party promoted the protest from social networks, where Kickl, a former Interior Minister who has defended that the coronavirus can be treated with an animal dewormer, ibuprofen and vitamin C, encouraged the protest to defend “freedom” and avoid “dictatorship.”
The FPÖ, the third parliamentary formation in Austria with a 20% intention to vote, has been radically against vaccines and restrictions to avoid contagion.
Michael Schnedlitz, Secretary General of Ultra Formation, assured today before thousands of dedicated supporters that he was neither vaccinated nor would he allow himself to be forcibly immunized.
“I tell you that I am not vaccinated and I will not allow myself to be inoculated by force. It’s my body and it’s my decision“, he assured in an intervention in which he criticized the Government for wanting, as he said, to silence them and have them subdued as if they were” subjects. ”
Yesterday the head of the Government linked the FPÖ with the low level of vaccination in the country and described its position as “irresponsible” and committing “an attack against public health”.
Although the presence of far-right figures and FPÖ sympathizers was clear, the demonstration attracted a heterogeneous variety of people, from supporters of conspiracy theories to people who distrust the excessive power of the state, through groups of evangelical Christians.
“The confinement of the unvaccinated seems to me a mistake, I do not believe that fundamental rights should be applied based on someone has a drug in the body “, explained to Efe a university student who carried a symbol of peace.
Two other young women carried a poster that read: “Better to demonstrate with the FPÖ than to be silent with the left “ and that he described the restrictions as a path to dictatorship.
Call to concord
The growing division in society due to measures against the coronavirus is such that the President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen, appealed last night to harmony and unity in a televised speech for the new confinement.
“Reciprocal accusations do not solve anything now. It does not solve anything by pointing the finger at the other and direct our anger at him “, Van der Bellen told the Austrians and encouraged them to overcome divisions that have fractured families and friends.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.