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Austrian government warns of ‘radicalization’ after lockdown protests

Austrian Home Secretary Karl Nehammer has warned of growing signs of ‘radicalization’ among anti-lockdown protesters as the country enters a full lockdown for all residents this week.

Minister Nehammer made his remarks following a protest against the closures on Saturday in Vienna that saw an estimated 38 to 40,000 people take to the streets, the largest protest against Wuhan’s coronavirus restrictions since the start of the pandemic.

According to Nehammer, the protests have “become considerably radicalized”. In the city of Linz over the weekend, a police vehicle was attacked with a firebomb and the perpetrators later admitted that they wanted to set the vehicle on fire along with officers, Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung reports.

“This level of radicalization is unacceptable in any way. In addition, death threats have been made against ministers and chancellors. In this atmosphere, the demo took place in Vienna. This protest shows the image of a very different group, ”said Nehammer.

Among the protesters in Vienna over the weekend, there are also reportedly far-right extremists who, according to media reports, tried to increase tensions during the protest.

Despite this, the level of violence was low with only ten people arrested and only two of the 1,300 police officers at the demonstration were lightly injured in the handful of clashes that took place throughout the day and evening on Saturday. , while no demonstrator was reported injured.

The relative calm was contrasted by other protests against the closures over the weekend in other European Union member states such as the Netherlands and Belgium, where protests turned into violent riots and saw protesters clash with police.

As of Monday, the Austrian government has placed all residents under strict lockdowns for the next ten to twenty days after the average number of daily deaths has tripled in recent weeks.

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg also said that from February next year all residents would be required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus and those who refuse could face hefty fines and even a potential prison sentence for not- respect.

Only around 66% of Austrians are currently vaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus, with daily new cases reaching a record high on Friday.

The announcement of the Austrian lockdown came just days after the government initially said only the unvaccinated would be taken into custody, a move Brexit leader Nigel Farage criticized and called “dark times for the freedom and liberty “.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or by e-mail to ctomlinson (at)

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