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Anti-vaxxers stage protest rallies in Greece, Turkey, France

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Demonstrators protest against COVID-19 mandatory vaccines outside the annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on September 11, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

People have taken to the streets in Greece, Turkey and France to protest against mandatory government measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, which protesters argue infringe on their freedoms.

In Greece, police fired tear gas and deployed water cannons to break up crowds protesting against mandatory coronavirus vaccinations on Saturday.

Protesters hurled flares at police as they were blocking them from entering a trade fair where Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was delivering his annual economic policy speech in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

"The epilogue of the pandemic is written clearly - the only answer to the danger is the vaccine, and the economy and society will not shut down again," Mitsotakis told the audience while vowing "growth for every woman and man in an economy that will give opportunities to every citizen."

Greece has been recovering from the government-debt crisis that hit the country in the aftermath of the global financial meltdown of 2007–08, plunging the country into political and economic turmoil.

"We came here to give a message to the government that we will not stop our fight. They are making fun of us with the changes that are coming to a new labor law that was recently passed hand in hand with the employers. We are shouting that we are here, we will resist, and we will continue our fight until the end," said one of the protesters who identified himself as George.

In Istanbul, Turkish protesters, opposed to mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations and the health pass system, held a demonstration rally, chanting slogans and singing songs. They held pro-freedom placards and waved the Turkish national flag in a show of support for what they called freedoms and individual rights.

"This pandemic is just going on with even more restrictions on our freedoms and there's no end to it," said Erdem Boz.

"Masks, vaccines, PCR tests might all become mandatory,” said the 40-year-old software developer. “We're here to voice our discontent with this."

In Turkey, wearing masks and social distancing are mandatory requirements for those seeking to travel and visit public places such as concerts or theaters.

Ankara’s government last week began requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for all users of planes, buses, and trains as well as those visiting public venues.

In France, protesters took to the streets for the ninth straight weekend, holding placards and chanting slogans "for freedom."

The French have been required to show their health pass in order to be allowed into cinemas, restaurants, gyms or museums.

The government of Emmanuel Macron insists the anti-COVID measures are necessary to combat the pandemic.

Far-right party leader Florian Philippot, and other opponents of the COVID restrictions, deem vaccinations and the health pass as unnecessary.

Opinion polls, however, show a majority of people support the government’s measures to curb the spread of the virus.



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