German Police Raid Anti-Vaxxers, Scholz Condemns ‘Extremist’ Threat
(Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said extremist opposition to vaccines and other measures to contain Covid-19 pose a risk to democratic society, with the threat underscored by authorities foiling an alleged assassination plot in the eastern state of Saxony.
Police on Wednesday conducted a set of raids to investigate allegations of plans to kill officials over lockdown measures. While Scholz -- who succeeded Angela Merkel last week -- didn’t specifically refer to the police action in and around Dresden, he’s taken a firm stance on anti-corona protesters.
“A small, extremist minority in our country has turned against our society, our democracy, our community and state,” Scholz told Bundestag lawmakers on Wednesday in his first address to parliament.
The new chancellor insisted a large majority of citizens support measures to stem the pandemic, reinforcing his plea for Germans to get fully vaccinated and receive booster shots.
Germany’s latest bout of coronavirus infections has been attributed to lagging vaccination rates, with more than 13 million adults not inoculated. Plans to make shots compulsory risks inciting further opposition, and authorities have warned that the threat of violence is on the rise.
Early on Wednesday, police raided homes and other premises in the area around the state capital as part of a probe into six people suspected of having discussed plans to murder the Saxony Premier Michael Kretschmer and other officials, the state’s Central Police Office said in a statement.
Police said the five men and a woman, who oppose the vaccination program and lockdown measures, had communicated over a Telegram chat group and in person about plans. The raid turned up crossbows and other weapons that are being examined.
Saxony has the lowest vaccination rate among Germany’s 16 states, and defiance to pandemic measures there has been particularly fierce. Only 59.1% of state residents are fully vaccinated, well below the national average of 69.8%, according to Germany’s Robert Koch Institute.
German politicians roundly condemned a group of protesters brandishing torches outside the home of Saxony’s health minister, Petra Koepping, on Dec. 3.
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