On the web and in the streets, Covid protests are getting nasty


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Berlin (AFP) – A call is being made on Telegram for those opposing the Covid restrictions to share the private addresses of German “MPs, politicians and other local figures” who they say “seek to destroy them” through pandemic brakes.

Those on the list should no longer be allowed to “live a carefree life,” the group called “Coronavirus-Information” wrote in the post posted in late November.

It has since been seen by 25,000 people.

On Friday evening, a group of corona-skeptics armed with flaming torches gathered in front of the house of Petra Koepping, the Minister of Health of the State of Saxony.

The scenes in the stronghold of the German far right, accompanied by the beating of drums, recalled the marches of the Nazi era, drawing condemnation from leading politicians.

Olaf Scholz, who is due to take office on Wednesday as Germany’s new chancellor, urged the company “not to be infected” by such “aggressive” behavior.

“When such flaming torch processions take place in front of a health minister’s house, it is seen as a threat – it is not just an expression of opinion, and we as Democrats strongly reject that, “he said.

Not only in Germany, but also in the Netherlands and Austria, security services have warned of the growing radicalization of coronavirus skeptics.

And the Telegram list is just one of a multitude of such examples popping up on social media in Germany, attracting opponents of coronavirus restrictions, from wearing masks to vaccinations.


The recent incoming call from the German government for mandatory vaccinations has sparked another wave of rage.

Thomas Strobl, who chairs the conference of regional interior ministers, warned that the compulsory blows would only “further harden the attitude of opponents”.

Strobl also accused internet regulators of failing to crack down on these threatening calls online.

But Simone Rafael of the anti-racist Amadeu Antonio foundation said monitoring the online sphere was easier said than done.

Protesters were quick to use the word ‘dictatorship’ to describe infection control measures Paul ZINKEN AFP / File

“German politicians face a dilemma when it comes to networks like Telegram,” said the online radicalization expert.

The only solution would be to shut it down completely. But in democratic Germany, nobody wants that. “

As a result, conspiracy theories and violence spread. Some users feel so untouchable that they use their real names to threaten people online.

” Very serious “

While a wave of dissent against corona borders has been there since the start of the pandemic, the hardening of the rhetoric is palpable today.

“For followers of such stories, this is not a joke but something very serious,” said Miro Dittrich, far-right specialist for the CeMAS research center.

“They are now reaching a point where they can no longer find solutions to their fictitious problems through normal means,” he said. As a result, some may even turn to violence.

“We are seeing more and more users on Telegram spreading private addresses in order to attack these people,” he said.

A protester protesting against anti-Coronavirus measures in Berlin on March 28, 2021
A protester protesting against anti-Coronavirus measures in Berlin on March 28, 2021 John MACDOUGALL AFP / File

Those targeted expressed fear of growing threats.

“Doctors involved in the fight against the pandemic report growing hostility and threats,” said Susanne Johna, who heads the Marburger Bund, an industry federation, in an interview with the Funke newspaper group.

After all, some have shown that they are prepared to go beyond the threats.

A young cashier working at a gas station who asked a customer to put on his mask, as required by law, was gunned down by the man in September, becoming the first fatal victim of the growing corona-skeptic movement. more violent.

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