Protesters at an anti-Covid restriction demonstration in Nijmegen on Sunday reacted with shock to the re-arrest of Viruswaarheid leader Willem Engel, according to Omroep Gelderland. The protesters gathered against the Temporary Covid-19 Measures Act (Twm) and the possible introduction of a European digital ID, according to De Gelderlander.
Engel, a Covid denier who was arrested on charges of sedition in mid-March, was taken back into custody on Sunday after violating the terms of his release. Some demonstrators criticized the re-arrest on the basis of free speech.
“The fact that he was arrested again says enough to me about the state of democracy in the Netherlands,” a young man at the event told Omroep Gelderland. “They want to silence dissidents and critical speakers. They want to silence them.”
Others expressed the fear that they, too, would get arrested for talking to the news outlet. One woman called the news of Engel’s arrest “terrible.”
“This is simply not possible in the Netherlands,” she told Omroep Gelderland. “You can basically say and do what you want here. But definitely not the last two years. We should not become North Korea or China. This is the Netherlands.”
Organizer of the event Michel Reijinga, of Nederland in Verzet, called it a “black day for the Netherlands” in his onstage announcement of Engel’s arrest, according to De Gelderlander. Engel was arrested on the highway en route to the protest.
One of the conditions for the Covid denier’s release set by the court was that he must “refrain from making statements on social media.” However, the OM was unable to confirm that Engel’s re-arrest was related to an appearance he made on YouTube channel Café Weltschmerz on Friday.