The protest, promoted from social networks by the far-right party FPÖ, nevertheless brought together a variety of sectors unhappy with the government measures to contain one of the worst waves of COVID-19 in the country so far.
Tens of thousands of people - about 40,000 according to the Police - many without masks and without maintaining a safety distance protested this Saturday in Vienna against the general confinement that begins on Monday in Austria and against mandatory vaccination.
The far-right FPÖ party called the demonstration, which estimated the participation in 100,000 people- although its leader, Herbert Kickl, did not attend as he was in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus.
"Resistance," "Corona-Fake," "Freedom," and "Down with the crown dictatorship" were some of the slogans of a crowd that converged from different parts of the city in the historic center of Vienna near the seat of the Government.
Protesters marched through the streets carrying Austrian flags, messages denying the existence of the disease and against vaccination, and generally calling the restrictions against the coronavirus dictatorial.
Although the protest unfolded peacefully, the Police informed Efe of at least five arrests in isolated incidents, such as throwing bottles and other objects at the officers. There have also been complaints about the use of Nazi symbols, which is a crime in Austria.
According to the newspaper Der Standard, the reasons for these complaints were the use of stars of David with the word "not vaccinated" by some protesters.
The yellow star was the symbol that the Nazis used to mark Jews and its use by certain deniers of the pandemic is to compare the measures against the covid with the Holocaust.
One person was also denounced for a banner comparing the current Christian Democrat Chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg, with Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor. The latter did experiments on inmates of the Auschwitz death camp.
The Government of conservatives and ecologists headed by Schallenberg announced yesterday confinement of 20 days from Monday. This step occurs when the infection rate in Austria is among the highest on the continent, with more than a thousand cases per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days.
In addition, to get out of the "vicious circle of confinements," the Executive wants that from February 2022, the covid vaccine is mandatory for all residents in the country, where the immunization rate is 65.7%.
The Police deployed a large device with about 1,300 agents, who monitored the mandatory use of masks and carried out random checks of the covid certificate -which proves to be vaccinated or to have passed the disease-, since in Austria confinement has been in force since last Monday for the unimmunized.
Ibuprofen against COVID
The far-right FPÖ party promoted the protest from social networks, where Kickl, a former Interior Minister who has argued that the coronavirus can be treated with an animal dewormer, ibuprofen, and vitamin C, encouraged the protest to defend "freedom" and avoid "dictatorship."
The FPÖ, the third parliamentary formation in Austria with a 20% vote intention, has been radically against vaccines and restrictions to prevent infections.
Michael Schnedlitz, secretary-general of the ultra formation, assured today before thousands of dedicated supporters that he was neither vaccinated nor would he allow himself to be forcibly immunized.
"I tell them that I am not vaccinated, and I will not allow myself to be inoculated by force. It is my body, and it is my decision, "he said in an intervention in which he criticized the Government for wanting, as he said, to silence them and have them subjected as if they were" subjects. "
Yesterday the head of the Government-linked the FPÖ with the low level of vaccination in the country and described its position as "irresponsible" and committing "an attack against public health."
Although the presence of far-right figures and FPÖ sympathizers was clear, the demonstration attracted a heterogeneous variety of people, from supporters of conspiracy theories to people who distrust the excessive power of the state to groups of Christians. Evangelicals.
"The confinement of the unvaccinated seems to be a mistake; I do not believe that fundamental rights should be applied depending on whether someone has a drug in the body," a university student wearing a peace symbol explained to Efe.
Two other young women carried a cartel that read: "Better to demonstrate with the FPÖ than to be silent with the left" and described the restrictions as a path to dictatorship.
Call to concord
The growing division in society due to measures against the coronavirus is why Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen appealed last night for harmony and unity in a televised speech about the new confinement.
"Reciprocal accusations don't solve anything now. Nothing can be solved by pointing the finger at the other and directing our anger at him," Van der Bellen told the Austrians and encouraged them to overcome divisions that have fractured families and friends.