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Protests in France, Germany and Italy over Covid passports

·2-min read
Demonstrators in Italy take part in a demonstration, organized by the No Vax and far-right movements against the "Green Pass", - Corbis/Corbis
Demonstrators in Italy take part in a demonstration, organized by the No Vax and far-right movements against the "Green Pass", - Corbis/Corbis

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of France, Germany and Italy over the weekend as they vented their fury over vaccine passports and lockdowns.

In the city of Montpellier in southern France, protesters descended on a Covid-19 testing tent, ripping it apart and harassing the attending pharmacist, shouting “assassin” and “collaborator.”

Police made 72 arrests and three officers were injured during the protests which were attended by some 200,000 people, compared to just 161,000 at demonstrations the previous week.

French officials are said to be concerned about the “radicalisation” of the protests and have drawn comparisons with the leaderless and chaotic 'yellow vest' demonstrations which erupted in 2018.

In some cases, protests against vaccine passports in France have been organised by former yellow vest members.

In France, proof of vaccination, a negative Covid-19 test or proof of recovery within the last six month from the illness is now required in the form of a health pass, in order to gain entry into museums, cinemas and attractions.

Protesters claim that the pass, which is expected to be extended to restaurants and cafes this month, violates their civil liberties.

It came as thousands of Italians took part in similar demonstrations across the country on Saturday against vaccine passports which are due to come into effect on August 6.

Demonstrations took place in Milan, Rome, Bologna, Padua, Genoa, Naples and Florence. In Milan, Prime Minister Mario Draghi was depicted as Hitler, while in Rome a protester carried a large placard in which the premier appeared as a Nazi SS officer.

Although the protests were widespread, they still represent a minority of opinion. So far, 32 million Italians have had both vaccine jabs, totalling 60 per cent of the population over the age of 12.

Meanwhile in Germany, hundreds of anti-lockdown demonstrators defied a court-ordered protest ban on Sunday and gathered illegally in the streets of Berlin, resulting in scuffles with police.

Police said some protesters had "harassed and attacked" officers in the capital's western Charlottenburg district and ignored roadblocks.

"They tried to break through the police chain and pull out our colleagues. This led to the use of irritants, batons and physical violence," Berlin police tweeted.

Several people were arrested, they added.

The protest was called by the "Querdenker" (Lateral Thinkers) movement, which has emerged as the loudest voice against Germany's coronavirus restrictions.

Judges had banned several of its planned demos this weekend, including one for Sunday that was meant to draw some 22,500.

Some of the demonstrators held up signs saying "Freedom" and "No to the corona dictatorship", with very few masks seen among the crowds.

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