Germany’s president calls for society to turn out against COVID-19 demonstrators, ties protests to right-wing extremism

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier addresses the media at his residence Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Germany, Friday, May 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
By Lucie Ctverakova
4 Min Read

Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is attempting to delegitimize protests against the Covid-19 measures, saying that they are being infiltrated by right-wing extremists.

“Everyone in our country has the right to protest peacefully against Covid-19 measures. However, with concern, I observe that radical, especially right-wing extremist forces, who are not concerned with coronavirus, but who are attacking our democratic constitutional state, are exploiting the protests for their own purposes and are increasingly harnessing others to their anti-democratic carts,” warned the head of state on Wednesday at citizens’ forum in Bellevue Castle.

He is concerned by the increasing violence in these protests, saying police officers, journalists, and politicians are now also being attacked at the demonstrations.

“When protesters babble about a ‘corona dictatorship,’ then it’s not just contempt for state institutions. But that offends us all! Because we are all this democracy!” said Steinmeier, demanding that the rule of law must punish such attacks with the utmost severity.

German politicians have routinely attempted to tie opposition to restrictive coronavirus measures to support for right-wing positions. While right-wing groups have been active with protesters, many of the people protesting are supporters of civil liberties, people concerned about vaccine safety, citizens opposed to a vaccine mandate, and an assortment of people from across the political spectrum, including the left.

Approximately 300,000 people demonstrated against Covid-19 measured on Monday, with the number of protesters growing due to planned mandatory vaccinations. As reported by Remix News, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised before the election that no vaccine mandate would be implemented in Germany, and in fact, such a subject was not even worth debating. Angela Merkel also rejected a vaccine mandate and promised one would never be implemented, before she turned around and said she would vote for a mandate in parliament after the elections. The Free Democratic Party leader Christian Linder, who now serves as finance minister in the ruling government, actively campaigned against a vaccine mandate, only to support one after the elections were over.

A growing chorus of voices, including health officials such as Thomas Merten, the head of Germany’s Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO), coming out against mandatory vaccination.

However, Germany’s presidents is still reserving harsh words for those protesting against mandatory vaccination, and called on the “silent majority” in the country to take action against the Covid-19 protests.

“I’m afraid that this majority must not remain silent when extremists lay the ax on basic democratic trust!” stated the president.

In this context, Steinmeier warned of future social upheavals.

“I’m sure that the mandatory vaccination debate will not be the last topic with which extreme forces will try to drive the poisoned sting into our democracy,” he noted, naming “climate change” and “migration policy” as other challenges.

Federal President Steinmeier had already criticized the protests against the federal government’s Covid-19 policy in the past.

“There are people who say: We have a ‘corona dictatorship.’ It is malicious nonsense!”  he said last week, for example.

On Feb. 13, the Federal Assembly will elect a Federal President. After the SPD, Greens, and FDP, the CDU/CSU also spoke out in favor of Steinmeier’s re-election. A second term for him is, therefore, considered a sure thing.

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