Riots broke out during demonstrations against the new restrictions imposed to stop the spread of Covid-19. After police opened fire on the protesters, the mayor of Rotterdam defended the city’s police force, injuring at least seven people.
More than 20 people were arrested on Friday night. Protesters threw stones at police and set fires in Dutch cities to express their dissatisfaction with the new measures restricting unvaccinated people from entering restaurants and shops and other places for at least three weeks.
The mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb (Ahmed Aboutaleb) blamed the use of force to control the situation on the protesters’ “violent carnival”.
“The police were forced to pull out their weapons and even shoot directly,” Abu Taleb told reporters, adding that some policemen were injured. After analyzing the security video, more people are expected to be arrested.
The Dutch Minister of Justice, Ferd Grapperhaus, said that the “extreme violence” in the port city against police and firefighters is disgusting.
“The right to protest is very important in our society, but what we saw last night was criminal behavior,” he added.
The police said the protests had turned into riots. “Fires have been set in several places. The fireworks were lit and the police fired several warning shots.”
Local authorities stated that police forces from various parts of the Netherlands have been deployed to Rotterdam to restore order because they issued an emergency statement prohibiting people from gathering in areas where the riots occurred.
After the violence in Rotterdam, organizers of a protest in Amsterdam on Saturday said they had cancelled the event. But another protest in the southern city of Breda will continue to oppose current measures to curb the spread of the virus, including the closure of bars, restaurants and clubs at 8pm.
This is not the first time that violence has erupted in the Netherlands due to coronavirus restrictions. In January this year, after the curfew took effect, rioters and police clashed on the streets of Rotterdam.
Many European countries are restoring severe restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus because despite the vaccination campaign, it continues to threaten to overwhelm the health system.
Thousands of protesters gathered in Vienna after the Austrian government announced a total blockade and mandatory vaccination. Germany ruled out the possibility of a blockade, but Health Minister Jens Spahn (Jens Spahn) said that “a national emergency requires a national effort.”