’They are Afraid of Us’ Thousands March for a Second Day in Austria

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - JANUARY 09: Herbert Kickl, leader of the right-wing Austria Freedom Party (FPOe), speaks at a rally of people protesting against coronavirus-related restrictions and a coming vaccination mandate on January 09, 2022 in Innsbruck, Austria. The Austrian government is scheduled to launch a nationwide vaccination mandate in February, …
Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images

Thousands again took the streets in Austria again on Sunday, marking the second day of large protests against the nation’s COVID restrictions.

A number of demonstrations took place again in Austria on Sunday, with thousands taking to the streets for the second day in order to protest the nation’s COVID restrictions.

Like Saturday’s rally in the Austrian capital of Vienna, one large rally in Innsbruck was also relatively peaceful, with the significant majority of police citations being related to violations of outdoor mask-wearing rules.

This was despite claims previously made by authorities before the event that it was “to be feared that in connection with a gathering of numerous people there will be dangerous attacks on the life, health or property of people”, according to a report by Kronen Zeitung.

The newspaper reports that around 6,000 are estimated to have attended the event, which was addressed by members of both the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, or Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), as well as the Menschen-Freiheit-Grundrechte party, or the People, Freedom, Rights party.

“I’m standing there steadfastly in front of you and the government is shaking. It will not survive the 2022 year,” Herbert Kickl — the federal party chairman of FPÖ — told those gathered. “They fear us because we love freedom and truth.”

“They are afraid of us,” Kronen Zeitung also cites Kickl as saying.

The party’s state leader Markus Abwerzger meanwhile spoke out heavily against mandatory vaccination.

“Fight everything that comes from the authorities,” told the crowd.

Meanwhile, an Antifa counter-demonstration titled “Raven Against Right” was not as well attended, attracting only around 200 people, according to Kronen Zeitung.

Another protest in Salzburg also attracted thousands of protesters on Sunday, with proceedings going ahead peacefully according to a Kronen Zeitung report.

Meanwhile, the State Party Chairman of the Salzburg Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs — or Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) — branch, David Egger, has joined others within the party who are now looking for the government to abandon plans regarding compulsory vaccination within the country.

The Governor of the state of Burgenland, Hans Peter Doskozil, also of the SPÖ, was the first major member of the party to call for the government to abandon the plan announced last year.

While the Austrian government had originally wanted to implement the mandate from the beginning of February, plans for its full deployment have since had to be pushed back to April for legal reasons as a result of what appears to be a failure in communication between government authorities.

“In the Federal Council I will refuse to give my consent to a handicraft vaccination botch,” Egger said according to a report by the Salzburger Nachrichten.

“Is it reasonable to expect a vaccine to be compulsory if it only offers good protection against the Omikron variant after three doses?” Egger went on to ask. “Can compulsory vaccination be implemented without breaking the administrative system? When can a possible compulsory vaccination actually be implemented technically? Questions that definitely need to be clarified in advance,”

Doskozil had also previously raised issues regarding the legal and administrative elements of the proposed mandate.

“What if the Constitutional Court said in one year that it was unconstitutional? That would be a disaster,” said the Burgenland governer, who added that “ultimately this form of compulsory vaccination polarizes further and leads to division”.

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