by Thorsten Koch
Public protests against Corona restrictions will take place in several German cities on Saturday. Parliamentarians have expressed concern over the esoteric and conspiracy bias that is common during such protests. CSU chairman Markus Söder asked people to distance himself from extremism and hatred. The AfD and other right-wing groups seized legitimate concerns of citizens, concerns he basically understood.
Schleswig-Holstein’s interior minister Sabine Sütterlin-Waack (CDU) expressed her fear that new extreme right-wing endeavors could arise – starting with the current demonstrations. The organizer Resistance 2020, for example, at times uses “National Socialist vocabulary,” also taking racist positions.
Large numbers of protesters initially registered
A large number of opponents of the measures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus will demonstrate in Stuttgart on Saturday. The city has limited the maximum number of participants to 5000. According to the demonstration’s organizers’ initial goal, the rally should have attracted half a million participants. A demonstration with up to 1000 participants has been registered in Munich, and several protests are going to take place in Berlin, each with a maximum of 50 participants.
In Stuttgart, the public health authority appealed that the participants keep a minimum distance and wear mouth-nose protection in public transport. Violations of the mask requirement will result in fines of up to 300 Euros.
Understanding of often legitimate concerns
Meanwhile, Saxony’s Prime Minister Kretschmer (CDU) expressed understanding for protests: “I respect that people who demonstrate and am against lumping all protests together.” Kretschmer said he would like to answer questions from concerned citizens, but would, at the same time, like to understand those who reject everything. He warned of provocateurs undermining the demonstrations.
Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) asked the security forces to be lenient and not to dissolve demonstrations in case they remained peaceful. He understands that there are debates about the requirements – however, this did not mean a lack of respect could be condoned. Of course, nobody should endanger others.
Solidarity instead of instrumentalization
During the crisis, people showed much solidarity and helped each other. Many goals had been achieved by standing together, in particular the goal of limiting infection dynamics, Spahn added. Hesse’s Interior Minister Peter Beuth warned against instrumentalization of the protests and asked for prudence.
Last weekend, thousands of people had already demonstrated in Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich and other German cities.