Germany: Torchlit rally against COVID measures prompts outcry | News | DW / German News

Saxony’s health minster, Petra Köpping, has said a protest against COVID-19 measures in front of her home, in which around 30 people took part in a torchlit demonstration, was “disgusting and indecent.”

The rally took place on Friday evening near the town of Grimma, southeast of the city of Leipzig in eastern Germany.

The participants, who were chanting against coronavirus policies, fled the scene once the police arrived, though authorities were able to set up checkpoints, stopping 15 vehicles and identifying 25 people involved.

Police said an investigation is underway to determine whether the spectacle violated regulations regarding assembly during the pandemic’s fourth wave, or other laws.

A group known as Free Saxons, classified as a right-wing extremist group in Germany, has claimed responsibility for the action on Twitter.

What have politicians said about the incident?

Köpping, a member of Germany’s center-left SPD, said the event should not be described as a protest. The state health minister instead described it as an organized attempt at intimidation by right-wing extremists, conspiracy theorists and grifters.

Köpping also pointed to the harassment suffered by people working at doctor’s offices, vaccination centers, hospitals and elsewhere over anti-pandemic measures.

Saskia Esken, one of two SPD party leaders, expressed solidarity with Köpping on Twitter Saturday.

“The sensitive and responsible are the vast majority and they are on your side!” she wrote on Twitter.

Her fellow party co-chair, Norbert Walter-Borjans, said the state needed to respond “with full force of the law.”

“This is a fascist in style and appearance,” he wrote on Twitter.

What is the COVID-19 situation in Saxony?

Germany is mulling a general vaccine mandate as infections rise. The situation is especially dire in the country’s east and south, with the state of Saxony reporting some of the highest COVID-19 rates of infection. On Saturday, the state again recorded 1,235 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the highest seven-day incidence in the country.

At the same time, Saxony also has one of the country’s lowest vaccination rates. The protest movement against protective and preventive measures is expanding, and has grown increasingly radical.

In the past, similar incidents have occurred outside the home of Saxony State Premier Michael Kretschmer.

ar / dj (AP, dpa, epd)

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