Friday, August 14, 2020

Demonstration “anti-mask” in Berlin: who are these thousands of coronasceptics

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United against… barrier gestures. In Berlin, an impressive crowd gathered on Saturday to demand the repeal of the constraints related to Covid-19, such as the obligation to wear a mask or to respect a certain social distancing.

These nearly 20,000 activists, according to the police, come from sometimes distant political horizons. Members of the black bloc mingle with anti-vaccine environmentalists; far-right activists follow others, more simply concerned with individual freedoms.

In the procession, placards and slogans sometimes question the degree of gravity, or even the existence of the coronavirus pandemic, reviving the conspiratorial discourse around which this strange constellation sometimes seems to gravitate.

“It is impossible to find a point in common with these demonstrators”, nuance Benjamin Alvarez, a journalist of the radio Deutsche Welle. Present during the parade, the reporter evokes “a great mix” with “people from all over the country”.

The very way in which this anti-confinement bloc was formed shows the heterogeneity of its ideological roots. The first rallies took place in Berlin in April at the instigation of anti-capitalist intellectuals.

Conspiracy

The slogans already have the accent of the plot. The state “has joined forces with pharmaceutical and digital companies to abolish democracy”, protests for example one of the co-organizers, the playwright Anselm Lenz, with the controversial journalist Ken Jebsen.

A few weeks later, the Daily mirror notes that the rallies are gradually “hijacked by right-wing and far-right populists”. Members of Afd, a Eurosceptic and nationalist German party, and of the ultra-nationalist National Democratic Party of Germany, are present, including Udo Voigt, president of the latter for 15 years.

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The newspaper depicts an assemblage of hooligans, rockers, “esoteric” protesters and Christians. “While some chant We are the people, others meditate or do yoga, he describes. Still others sing about Jesus, or claim that the sanitary measures led directly to a new Holocaust or were organized by the New world order, put forward among conspiracy theorists. “

This same kind of speech is relayed by other figures less identified politically within the movement. This is particularly the case of Attila Hildmann. This controversial vegan blogger and cookbook author has become, according to The world, a “symbol of German conspiracy” in favor of the sling, for example qualifying Adolf Hitler as a “blessing” in comparison to Angela Merkel “communist, Zionist and Satanist”.

“Let’s stop the dictatorship”

In Berlin on Friday, the scars of this conspiratorial thinking were clearly visible. “Let’s not give Bill Gates a chance,” a sign warned. Let’s stop the coronavirus dictatorship. “. Another read: “The mask is the yellow star of the unvaccinated.”

“People who do not inform themselves, unlike us, remain ignorant and believe what the government tells them, railed Anna-Maria, an activist. They go into fear that the government is putting us in our heads. And fear weakens the immune system. “

While the motto of the demonstration, “Freedom Day”, recalled the title of a 1935 Nazi propaganda film, several counter-demonstrators, including a procession of “grandmothers against the extreme right”, came. to call the militants present “Nazis”. Undoubtedly putting his finger on one of the realities of a protean and ideologically diffuse movement.

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