Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine passport protests erupted across Europe on Saturday, according to media photos and videos.
Thousands upon thousands of demonstrators were seen in London, Dublin, Paris, Rome, Athens, and other cities across Europe, according to footage and news reports.
The demonstrations in France appeared to be the tensest, with riot police firing tear gas as clashes erupted in central Paris.
Police sought to push back demonstrators near the capital’s Gare Saint-Lazare railway station after protesters had knocked over a police motorbike ridden by two officers, news footage showed. Scuffles between police and demonstrators also broke out the Champs-Elysees thoroughfare, where teargas was fired and traffic was halted, it showed.
France’s Interior Ministry said that about 160,000 people partook in the protests on Saturday—sharply up from 114,000 a week before that, reported Reuters.
The reason for the protest, in part, was due to pending legislation in France’s Parliament that would set up a vaccine passport system as well as a vaccination mandate for all healthcare workers. The passport bill would force people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result to enter restaurants and other public areas—which critics have described as needlessly draconian.
Protesters railed against the proposed bill, saying, “no to shameful pass” while denigrating French President Emmanuel Macron as a “tyrant.”
“We need to wait a little bit before the French people can decide … I think a part of France is always going to be unwilling and that blackmail and threats won’t work,” protester Ayoub Bouglia, an engineer, told The Associated Press for why he’s demonstrating.
Thousands of Italian demonstrators gathered in Rome, Naples, Verona, and Milan on Saturday, according to videos and photos published online.
In Verona, thousands chanted, “No Green Pass,” referring to Italy’s government decision to implement a vaccine-passport-like system for people to enter local fairs, stadiums, theaters, and other gathering areas.
Also on Saturday, demonstrators in Dublin, Ireland, emphatically called on the government to rescind lockdown and mask measures.
Some 4,000 people, meanwhile, appeared outside of the Greek parliament in central Athens to protest against mandatory vaccinations, DW and other news agencies reported. Greek authorities used tear gas on some protesters.
Reuters contributed to this report.