COVID-19: Thousands in Berlin protest against measures to stem the spread of pandemic

Thousands marched in Berlin on Saturday to protest against measures imposed in Germany to stem the coronavirus pandemic, saying they violated people's rights and freedoms. Independent sources say that more than 0.2 million people came out on roads
The gathering, estimated by police at 17,000, included libertarians, constitutional loyalists and anti-vaccination activists. There was also a small far-right presence with some marchers carrying Germany's black, white and red imperial flag.
Protesters danced and sang 'We are free people!' to the tune of rock band Queen's 'We Will Rock You'. Others marched with placards saying 'We are making a noise because you are stealing our freedom!' and 'Do think! Don't wear a mask!'.
"Our demand is to return to democracy," said one protester who declined to give his name. "The mask that enslaves us must go."
The protests followed a rallying call from Michael Ballweg, an entrepreneur and political outsider who has organised similar rallies in Stuttgart and is running to become mayor of the southwestern city.
Police filed a complaint against the organiser for failing to ensure marchers wore masks and kept their distance. Mainstream politicians criticised the protesters, with Social Democrat co-leader Saskia Esken calling them "covidiots".
"They not only endanger our health, they endanger our successes against the pandemic," tweeted Esken, whose party is Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition partner.
After Germany's initial success in curbing the pandemic, infections are rising again. More than 200,000 people have caught COVID-19 and nearly 1,000 have died from it.
Most people in Germany have respected measures that include wearing face masks in shops, while the government has just imposed mandatory tests for holidaymakers returning from high-risk areas.
But a vocal minority is chafing against the restrictions.
"Only a few scientists around the world who follow the government's lead are heard," said protester Peter Konz. Those who hold different views "are silenced, censored or discredited as defenders of conspiracy theories".
It was a rare sight to see thousands in Berlin, Germany, protest against measures taken by the government against the novel coronavirus, such as face masks and vaccines, on Saturday. 
Police put turnout at around 17,000 -- well below the 500,000 organisers had announced as they urged a "day of freedom" against the coronavirus restrictions.
Despite Germany´s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over recent weeks and politicians took to social media to criticise the rally as irresponsible.
"We are the second wave," shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists as they converged on the Brandenburg Gate, demanding "resistance" and dubbing the pandemic "the biggest conspiracy theory".
Few protesters wore a mask or respected the 1.5-metre (five-foot) social distancing requirement, an AFP journalist reported, despite police repeatedly calling on them via megaphone to do so.
Berlin police tweeted they had launched legal proceedings action against organisers for not respecting virus hygiene rules.
"If physical distancing cannot be applied we shall continue to talk to the organiser of the event and that could lead to the event being called off," warned police spokesman Thilo Cablitz.
A handful of people held a counter demonstration. Dubbing themselves "grandmothers against the extreme right", they hurled insults against "Nazi" protesters.
The protest´s "Day of Freedom" slogan echoes the title of a 1935 documentary by Nazi-era film-maker Leni Riefenstahl on a party conference by Hitler´s National Socialist German Workers´ Party.
Several politicians condemned the demonstration as Germany seeks to minimise transmission of a virus which had claimed just over 9,000 deaths as of Saturday -- a far lower toll than its neighbours.

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South Punjab News : COVID-19: Thousands in Berlin protest against measures to stem the spread of pandemic
COVID-19: Thousands in Berlin protest against measures to stem the spread of pandemic
Independent sources say that more than 0.2 million people came out on roads The gathering, estimated by police at 17,000, included libertarians, constitutional loyalists and anti-vaccination activists.
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