Tens of thousands protest Belgium’s stricter COVID-19 rules amid spike.
BRUSSELS (AP) – Ten of thousands of people demonstrated in central Brussels on Sunday to protest tightened COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the Belgian government to counter the latest increase in coronavirus cases.
Many of those estimated by the police at 35,000 attendees of the rally had already gone home when the rally turned into violence when several hundred people began to stone police, smash cars and set garbage containers on fire. Police responded with tear gas and water cannons and tried to restore order as dusk fell over the Belgian capital.
Three policemen and a protester were injured in the clashes. In addition, 42 protesters were detained and two were arrested and charged in the wave of violence that followed the march, said police spokeswoman Ilse Vande Keere.
The protesters came to protest the government’s strong advice to get vaccinated and any possible move to impose mandatory vaccinations.
Screaming “Freedom! Liberty! Freedom! “And singing the anti-fascist song” Bella Ciao “, the protesters lined up behind a huge banner that read” Together for Freedom “and marched towards the headquarters of the European Union. Amid the crowd, the signs varied from far-right badges to rainbow flags of the LGBT community.
The World Health Organization said last week that Europe was the hot spot of the pandemic at this time, the only region where COVID-19 deaths were increasing. The surge in infections is overwhelming hospitals in many Central and Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, Russia, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
During the past few days, there have been many anti-vaccination marches in European nations one government after another tightened the measures. Dutch police more than 30 people were arrested during riots in The Hague and other cities in the Netherlands on Saturday, following much worse violence the night before.
Austria to enter 10-day national lockdown on Monday for all after first imposing a blockade on the unvaccinated. Vienna’s Christmas markets were filled with locals and tourists enjoying the sights on Sunday before shops and food stalls were forced to close.