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German intelligence monitors 'Querdenker' anti-lockdown movement amid calls for crackdown
29 April 2021, 11:57 | Updated: 29 April 2021, 12:01
Members of an anti-lockdown movement in Germany have been put under observation by the country's domestic intelligence agency.
It is thought some in the "Querdenker" (lateral thinking) movement are exploiting legitimate protests and trying to provoke confrontations with authorities.
It draws in people opposed to vaccinations and mask wearing, some who deny the existence of coronavirus, conspiracy theorists and other demonstrators.
Germany has been put into tough measures which may last until June.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country needed an "emergency brake" as cases grew exponentially.
Protests against the measures have also attracted neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists, and authorities have warned the loose movement is becoming increasingly radical.
Some demonstrators have been seen wearing the Star of David, suggesting they are being treated like Jews were in Nazi Germany.
The German interior ministry said "Querdenker" members have sometimes shown "clearly that their agenda goes beyond mere mobilisation to protest against the state's coronavirus protective measures".
Some individuals and groups linked to the movement are now under observation.
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) will be able to gather more data about individuals from the scene.
The BfV usually labels a group "extremist" to put it under observation but a new category has instead been introduced for the movement, allowing it to deal with suspected cases as well as proven extremism.
Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews, said: "Right-wing extremists use the protests against the coronavirus requirements strategically to win supporters, they use it to spread their ideas deep into the middle of society, it is imperative that this development be stopped."