Demonstrations against coronavirus measures in The Hague turned violent on Saturday night, with protesters setting fire to cars and throwing stones and other objects at police officers. Friday’s protests in Rotterdam also involved violent scenes, clashes with police, and vehicles set on fire. In Vienna, participants in protests wore yellow stars with the word “unvaccinated.”
Hundreds of people took to the streets in The Hague, where the Dutch government is based. After the protesters started shooting fireworks at the police, setting fires, and damaging traffic lights, the police responded with water cannons and dispersed the crowd.
Police eventually detained seven people. Five police officers were injured, one of them had to be taken to hospital. Local media reported that rioters threw bicycles, wooden pallets, and motor scooters into the fires.
In Rotterdam, three seriously injured people are in hospital after violent protests on Friday. Police had to use warning shots and water cannons and arrested 51 people. Half of them were under 18 years of age.
Videos on social media show chaos, police clashing with protesters, and a fire in the streets of Rotterdam. People were also protesting against the government’s proposal to stop recognizing negative Covid-19 tests, currently required in many public places in the Netherlands.
“Protesting is a fundamental right in our society, but what we saw last night is simply a criminal act,” Dutch Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said on Sunday.
Due to the situation in Rotterdam, organizers decided to cancel a protest against coronavirus restrictions planned for Saturday in Amsterdam.
The Netherlands reintroduced some restrictions on Nov. 13 due to the record high numbers of new Covid-19 cases. Under the new rules, restaurants and shops have to close earlier, house visits are limited, and sports matches take place without spectators.
Protests also escalated in Vienna
Tens of thousands of people also participated in a demonstration against epidemic measures organized by the opposition Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) in the center of Vienna on Saturday. An estimated 40,000 people gathered in Heroes’ Square near the Hofburg.
According to the Austrian media, the atmosphere soon escalated, and there were also clashes with the police. At least ten people have been arrested. Some protesters used pyrotechnics and threw bottles and cans at police officers. However, no one was injured.
Hundreds of people arrived at the demonstration with flags and Austrian eagle symbols on their clothes. Some wore yellow stars with the word “unvaccinated” and banners stating: “That’s how it started in 1938.”
Austria has introduced a lockdown for the unvaccinated last week, and from Nov. 22, the restriction extends to the vaccinated population. This will last a minimum of ten days and a maximum of 20. In addition, the Austrian government has ordered compulsory Covid-19 vaccination for all citizens. The country recorded a new record increase in the number of new cases per day on Friday, almost 16,000.
Protests in other European cities
In Zagreb, Croatia, perhaps the biggest protest took place involving nearly a 100,000 people who marched through the streets to demonstrate against compulsory vaccination for public sector workers.
Several thousand people also gathered in Rome, Italy, to express their disapproval of the “Green Pass” certificate, required in the workplace or on public transport.