Authorities in Berlin have banned a series of planned demonstrations against the country's COVID-19 lockdown measures - claiming they were organized by "right-wing extremists" and would lead to the spread of the virus. The city is deploying several thousand police around the German capital this weekend, citing threats.
The German city notably did not ban a June Black Lives Matter protest in which approximately 15,000 people turned out.
Meanwhile, the Assembly for Freedom had 17,000 registered demonstrators for the August 29 event before Berlin shut it down.
"We are still in the middle of a pandemic with rising infection figures," said Berlin Interior Minister, Andreas Geisel. "This is not a decision against freedom of assembly, but a decision in favor of infection protection," he continued, adding that Berlin should not be "misused as a stage for corona deniers… and right-wing extremists."
About 20,000 people, including libertarians, constitutional loyalists, far-right supporters and anti-vaccination activists, marched in Berlin on Aug. 1.
Geisel said the organisers of that protest had deliberately broken rules they had previously agreed with police, including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
“Such behaviour is not acceptable. The state cannot be given the runaround,” he said, adding he did not want Berlin to be a stage for conspiracy theorists and right-wing extremists. -Reuters
Meanwhile, Germany's right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) has called for a protest at the Brandenburg Gate against the ban.
"The Senate is trampling on fundamental rights," AfD said in a statement.