The Netherlands: coronavirus protests turn to rioting
The last two nights have seen heavy rioting in several Dutch cities. Shortly before the nightly curfew was due to begin crowds of young people gathered, and some of them went on to vandalise shops, set fires, and attack police. Are the protests an expression of the psychological fallout of the pandemic or is the virus just an excuse?
The fuse is getting ever shorter
For De Standaard the riots demonstrate the explosive potential of the pent up frustration over coronavirus restrictions.
“Tensions in society are gradually mounting. The manic-depressive pattern of the pandemic is mentally exhausting for us all. One minute freedom seems within reach, the next it is snatched away again. If this cycle repeats itself then not even the most disciplined citizen will be able to hold out much longer. ... The flame is getting dangerously near to the powder keg. What happened in the Netherlands, where things are usually debated in such a civilised manner - a test centre set on fire, violence against a hospital, unbelievable! - should serve as a final warning.”
Covid causes rage
We are starting to see how Covid is affecting the psyche of society, fears La Vanguardia's editor-in-chief Jordi Juan:
“This is the first protest of this magnitude in Europe, but various isolated actions of a similar nature are occuring every night in many other cities on the Old Continent. The curfews, the closure of leisure facilities and all the measures taken by the various authorities to curb the infection rates are provoking an angry response among many groups - young and not so young. ... Hopefully the violence can be contained, but the social discontent that this pandemic is causing will have after-effects. The economic consequences are already clear. ... But there will also be very negative psychological repercussions.”
Zero tolerance for terror on the streets
These riots have nothing to do with the coronavirus protests, De Telegraaf stresses:
“Only disoriented minds would confuse this unbelievably destructive frenzy with sincere demonstrations against the curfew. ... We must distinguish between the often naive citizens who want to make their voices heard peacefully and the aggressive vandals who roam the streets looting and seeking confrontation with the police. ... We must find out who the instigators of the violence are. ... There can be zero tolerance for violence. There can only be one response to terror on the streets, and that is tough, repressive intervention to restore order. Chaos must not be allowed to reign in this country.”