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Tens of Thousands Converge on Berlin to Denounce Coronavirus Restrictions


BERLIN—Tens of thousands of protesters occupied the center of the German capital for the second time in a month on Saturday, denouncing pandemic restrictions in defiance of governments that are battling a resurgence of infections.

Berlin authorities said some 35,000 to 38,000 demonstrators from Germany and elsewhere in Europe gathered throughout the day. In the early afternoon police broke up a march through Berlin’s Mitte district after tens of thousands of protesters disregarded safety measures, but the main rally still took place in the afternoon.

Coronavirus skeptics are a minority. A median of 73{f08ff3a0ad7db12f5b424ba38f473ff67b97b420df338baa81683bbacd458fca} of people across 14 advanced nations polled by the Pew Research Center between June and August said their country had done a good job fighting the virus. In Germany, a poll for German broadcaster ZDF published Friday showed 88{f08ff3a0ad7db12f5b424ba38f473ff67b97b420df338baa81683bbacd458fca} viewed current coronavirus measures as adequate or insufficient while 10{f08ff3a0ad7db12f5b424ba38f473ff67b97b420df338baa81683bbacd458fca} thought they were excessive.

But the eclectic front of conspiracy theorists, libertarians, far-right activists and other discontents that was represented at the Berlin protest could pose a challenge to nations that are scrambling to get the pandemic under control before the winter. The Pew study showed a median of 48{f08ff3a0ad7db12f5b424ba38f473ff67b97b420df338baa81683bbacd458fca} thought the pandemic had deepened divisions in society.

“There are movements already critical of the state that are trying to join these protests now, as that gives them the opportunity to be more visible in the political debate,” said Michael Böcher, a professor of political science at the Otto-von-Guericke-University in Magdeburg. “But a democracy must tolerate critical voices.”


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