Parallels to Pegida: The protest is radicalizing in Saxony

Parallels to Pegida
The protest is radicalizing in Saxony

The corona situation in Saxony is dramatic, but opponents of measures have been mobilizing to protests for weeks. The angry mob in front of Health Minister Köpping’s house is the high point of an ongoing radicalization so far. Politicians now want to crack down on them.

You are standing in the dark on the street, torches in your hand and posters: The scenes that took place on Friday evening in front of the private house of the Saxon Minister of Health Petra Köpping and can be seen in videos on social media seem threatening. Politicians from the opposition also condemned the protest as an attempt to intimidate a politician who has been trying to contain the pandemic for months – in the nationwide corona hotspot Saxony. What’s going on in the Free State?

The Saxon government has been fighting against the skyrocketing number of cases for weeks. The Robert Koch Institute gives the seven-day incidence for Saxony with values ​​above 1000. Intensive care beds are scarce and patients are being flown to other federal states. Hospitals even advise tumor patients to seek treatment in northern Germany, for example. At the same time, Saxony has the lowest vaccination rate nationwide – despite all appeals, only a good 58 percent of people are fully vaccinated.

In view of the situation, the state government ordered the currently strictest corona rules in Germany two weeks ago. 2G applies in many areas, restaurants are only allowed to open in a limited time window. There are rules for demonstrations – they are only allowed in a fixed location with up to ten participants. In the past few weeks, however, this did not prevent opponents of the Corona policy from moving through Saxon places, sometimes with hundreds. The police filed a complaint against a group of people in Freiberg, for example. At many other gatherings, however, the officials let the demonstrators go.

“A clear signal from the rule of law”

According to left-wing politician Kerstin Köditz, this is a “loss of control”. The pressure on Interior Minister Roland Wöller is growing. Wöller had repeatedly emphasized in recent weeks that the police would not use force against demonstrators. “What would the alternative be? Using gun violence or violence (…) to drive people apart – that cannot be an alternative. Violence is not the method of choice,” he said.

After the protest in front of Köpping’s house, however, Wöller spoke out in favor of a “clear and rapid signal from the rule of law”. The police had reported the violation of the Assembly Act because of the protest in front of Köpping’s house and are investigating violations of the Corona Ordinance. The state security department is also examining the incidents for aspects relevant to criminal law.

Experts see parallels between the current Corona protests and the Pegida demonstrations of 2015. The Dresden historian Mike Schmeitzner, professor at the Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Research at the TU Dresden, spoke of a partially solidified milieu last year. Among the demonstrators are people who have apparently committed to their basic criticism of the “system”.

Movement becomes radicalized

The assessment of the Saxon security authorities sounded similar recently. “The idea of ​​violent resistance to democratic rules is now one of the typical standard demands of the Corona deniers movement,” said the President of the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Dirk-Martin Christian. Even under the influence of right-wing extremists, so-called Reich citizens and anti-Semites, the anti-corona protests became more and more aggressive in the course of the pandemic.

The situation could heat up even further due to a corona vaccination, warned the chairman of the conference of interior ministers, Thomas Strobl. According to the intelligence of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, one can assume that “compulsory vaccinations will reinforce the aggressive attitude of the lateral thinker movement,” said the Baden-Württemberg interior minister to the newspapers of the Funke media group.

The Dresden police want to show themselves determined on Monday. She is preparing for a large-scale operation in front of the Saxon state parliament, because a protest is being called on social media. On that day, Parliament wants to resolve the epidemic situation and thus create legal certainty for the continuation of existing corona protective measures. “Extremists are also mobilizing for a protest in front of the Saxon state parliament. Our risk prognosis, the basis of our tactics, is completely different from the previous Mondays,” said Police President Jörg Kubiessa. A “tougher pace of the police” will be the logical consequence.

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