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Police fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse protesters on Sunday, bombarding officers with cobblestones and fireworks as a protest in Brussels against government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions became violent.

A few thousand demonstrators marched peacefully through the center of the Belgian capital to the district which houses the headquarters of the institutions of the European Union, where the demonstration reached its end.

In the European Quarter, a group of protesters wearing black hoods and chanting “liberte” (freedom) began to throw stones at the police, who reacted with tear gas and water cannons, according to images and reports of Reuters journalists present.

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Protesters were protesting rules imposed in October that require people to show COVID-19 passes to access bars and restaurants.

“I cannot stand any form of discrimination, and now there is the vaccine pass which is discriminatory, the sanctions for (unvaccinated) caregivers which are also discriminatory, there is compulsory vaccination which is heading towards us”, a said a protester, martial arts teacher Alain Sienaort, mentioned.

“This is just discrimination, so we have to fight it. We don’t want a dictatorship.”

The protest follows new measures announced on Friday to curb one of the highest infection rates in Europe, including the compulsory wearing of masks for most primary school students and an extension of school holidays.


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