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Thousands in Austria Protest Covid Lockdown and Vaccine Mandate

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“With the increasingly tense situation, I would expect that the conflict we already have will only get worse,” Julia Partheymüller, a political scientist at the University of Vienna, told the public broadcaster ORF.

As darkness fell on Saturday, conflicting scenes in the city reflected those divisions: Several dozen protesters gathered in front of the Chancellery for a torch-lit rally with speeches deploring the new measures. Across the way, residents sipped hot, mulled wine and ate candied nuts in anticipation of the Christmas season — one that will be limited now as the lockdown comes into effect on Monday.

Besmira Aleksi, a student of sociology at the University of Vienna, turned out to hold her own small protest — against the demonstrators who she said failed to understand how dangerous the virus is.

“Shame on you,” she yelled over the din of drums and a megaphone, as the police escorted a protester from the scene. She said that she had hoped to find a counterdemonstration, but when there was not one, she came out on her own.

“Nobody is trampling your rights,” Ms. Aleksi shouted to the crowd. “You are out here exercising them.”

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