38,000 protesters flood German streets
PIC: Associated Press

Police in Berlin have arrested 300 demonstrators during protests against Germany's coronavirus restrictions, it was reported on Sunday.

On Saturday, some 38,000 people took to the streets in the city for mostly peaceful demonstrations, the BBC reported.

But later in the day, hundreds of protesters, many from the far right, tried to storm the Reichstag, the home of Germany's federal Parliament.

A number of people were arrested and German politicians condemned the attack as "shameful" and "unacceptable".

Senior German officials on Sunday condemned attempts by far-right protesters and others to storm the parliament building following a protest against the country's pandemic restrictions.

Hundreds of people, some waving the flag of the German Reich of 1871-1918 and other far-right banners, breached a security barrier outside the Reichstag late Saturday but were intercepted by police and forcibly removed.

"Reich flags and right-wing extremist provocations in front of the German Bundestag are an unbearable attack on the heart of our democracy," Germany's president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Sunday. "We will never accept this." Steinmer said people had the right to express their anger about the coronavirus restrictions and to question them publicly, including with demonstrations.

"My sympathy ends where protesters allow themselves to be used by enemies of democracy and political agitators," he added.

Police used pepper spray to drive back the protesters, who earlier in the day had participated in a large rally through the capital.

Berlin's top security official, Andreas Geisel, praised three officers who had stood alone against the protesters outside the Reichstag until reinforcements arrived. Opposition parties criticized the police's failure to station sufficient officers around Parliament despite public warnings from far-right extremists that they planned to try to enter the building.

Robert Habeck, the co-leader of Germany's Green party, called for a thorough investigation into the incident.

"The fact that Nazis with imperial war flags try to storm the Bundestag recalls the darkest period in German history," he told the Funke media group.

"An incident like on Saturday evening must not be allowed to happen again," Habeck said.

"I expect (federal) Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to decisively combat right-wing extremism at all levels." Opinion polls show overwhelming support for the prevention measures imposed by German authorities, such as the requirement to wear masks on public transport, in stores and in some public buildings such as libraries and schools.Some of those involved had insignia from the far-right Reichsburger movement.

Rallies protesting against coronavirus restrictions took places in other European cities with some demonstrators calling the virus a hoax, said the BBC reported.

Thousands gathered in London's Trafalgar Square to protest against issues including coronavirus restrictions and 5G.

Signs reading "masks are muzzles" and "new normal new fascism" were held up.

Similar protests took place in Paris, Vienna and Zurich.

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