Police halt major Berlin protests as Germany passes tougher coronavirus laws | News | DW

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Several thousand people gathered in the center of Berlin, banging pans and blowing whistles, to protest Chancellor Angela’s opinionMe and the German government ‘push to better apply coronavirus restrictions Wednesday. Some 190 protesters were arrested and nine police officers were injured in the clashes that followed, Berlin police said.

“The police are calling the demonstrators to leave. Lots of hoot. Protesters want access to an area cordoned off around parliament where new additions to the infection law are being debated [at the moment,]DW Nina Haase reported from the stage.

A tense standoff ensued, as police tried to convince the crowd to disperse amid shouts of “We are the people!” And as some protesters began to sing the national anthem.

Police in riot gear lined up to prevent protesters from getting too close to the parliament building, seeking to avoid scenes in August when a similar protest reached the Reichstag parliament building. At the time, during a weekend demonstration, politicians were not in session.

Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer defended the police action, saying key government bodies were able to “work without restrictions today”.

“The democratic constitutional state is alive and the police are its protective shield,” he added.

The conservative politician thanked the emergency forces “for this very important service in our country”.

Read more: Leipzig coronavirus protest sparks heated debate over police in Germany

What do the new rules imply?

Germany’s lower and upper chambers have passed changes to Germany’s infection protection law, more specifically responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The new measures will activate the government to impose restrictions on social contacts, rules on wearing a mask, drinking alcohol in public, closing shops and quitting sports events.

Defenders say the bill provides a more solid legal basis for various anti-pandemic measures. It also covers the rules on school and daycare closures., and restrictions on educational institutions.

Dubbed the Infection Protection Act, the law was passed in the German Bundestag with a majority of 415 lawmakers supporting it, 236 voting against and eight abstentions. He then went to the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament, where it was passed with a clear majority. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier then signed it.

Some 17,561 new cases of coronavirus were reported in Germany on Wednesday, bringing its total number of infections to 833,307.

The latest infection figures are a slight drop from the same day last week, when Germany reported 18,487 cases, and the number of daily cases has leveled off somewhat in recent days. But infection levels are still far higher than what the government considers acceptable in most countries and more than four times the government limit in Berlin itself.

Read more: Does Mass Coronavirus Testing Make Sense?

Hitler’s enabling act invoked by skeptics

Protesters who took part in Wednesday’s protests were not actively wearing masks or social distancing. But one participant wore a mask with the words “Merkel-Muzzle” on, while others held banners with slogans such as “For the Enlightenment. Peace and Freedom ”.

Cthe rituals say that coronavirus laws would give too much power to government and endanger citizens civil rights.

the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) capable gone that far comparing the measures proposed with the enabling law of 1933 which paved the way for Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship, especially in his social media posts. A senior member of the AfD, Bernd Baumann, drew the same parallel in the Bundestag.

Social Democrat MP Helge Lindh told DW that the right to protest should be respected, but a comparison with the Nazi regime was too far off.

“It must be possible to protest and criticize,” Lindh told DW over the phone. “But tolerance cannot go so far to accept that the law of protection against infections is assimilated at the beginning of the Nazi dictatorship, with the enabling law of 1933.”

“It’s blindness to the lessons of history,” Lindh said. “And this is a complete trivialization of National Socialism.”

Andreas Wirsching, director of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, told DW that the analogy was “completely absurd”.

Read more: Can Germany’s infection protection law be compared to the Nazis’ “enabling law”?

An attempt by the AfD, Germany’s largest opposition party in the current parliament, to stop work in the Bundestag failed on Wednesday morning.

Read more: Traveling to Germany: what you need to know about coronavirus restrictions

According to the Berlin newspaper Daily Mirror, several lawmakers accused their AfD colleagues of allowing certain demonstrators to enter the parliament building without authorization.

One of these activists was caught on camera berating CDU politician and economy minister Peter Altmeier as he waited for the elevator. Lawmakers said they were harassed by anti-coronavirus protesters who allegedly crept into the building.

jcg, aw/ dj (dpa, AFP)



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