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AFP
November 22, 2020

Germany’s anti-mask movement draws strange bedfellows

World

AFP
November 22, 2020

BERLIN: A dancer in harem pants moves down a Berlin street next to a skinhead wearing a "Reich" flag: Germany’s escalating anti-mask protests in the coronavirus pandemic draw from a wide, seemingly contradictory range of political camps.

A rally of nearly 10,000 opponents of government-imposed social restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Berlin this week brought together a motley band of demonstrators with ostensibly little in common -- apart from crumbling faith in institutions and representative democracy.

On Saturday, another demonstration is set to take place in the eastern city of Leipzig. The protest in the German capital, which led to 365 police detentions, gives a taste of what could be expected.

The scene in front of the Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday marked a dizzying confluence of LGBT rainbow flags and Gandhi banners intermingled with posters for the increasingly international QAnon conspiracy movement.

Marchers wearing red Trump "MAGA" hats could be spotted in the crowd next to evangelicals, climate activists and "peace"-shouting hippies.

Most of the protesters remained peaceful while they railed against vaccines and dismissed the dangers of the virus, but a violent hard core attacked police.

Some 77 officers were injured at the demonstration, with Berlin police chief Barbara Slowik saying that "the brutality of the violence was immense."

"Some have told me that we have not experienced something like that in decades," she told the Tagesspiegel daily.