On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of people gathered in Maribor to protest against the mandatory wearing of masks outside and the testing of children for the novel coronavirus. They were not wearing masks nor maintaining the necessary distance from one another, and among other things, they also hugged and sang together. They did all of this, despite the calls from government officials and health professionals to stay at home and in your family circle for the holidays and simply endure the eleven days of the stricter restrictions of movement in order to avoid a repeat of the autumn scenario when more than 3000 people died in the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic. The mainstream media, which covered the event extensively and did not directly condemn it, angered the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, who wrote on Twitter that this protest was a harvest of intolerance, hatred and corona idiocy after rich sowing by RTV Slovenia and 24ur.
On Saturday afternoon, about 150 protesters who organised their meeting on the social network gathered on the Main Square in Maribor, and soon after, the crowd grew significantly. They protested against the closing of the state or the so-called lockdown and against the measures to prevent the spread of the covid-19 epidemic.
According to the Slovenian Press Agency, the protesters, who did not wear masks or maintain the safety distance, waved Slovenian flags and brought banners that read: “Now everyone is fighting a battle, as you even want to take away our air,” “Enjoy it while you can,” “Today our classes will be held in a furniture store,” and “We wear a smile in school, not masks.” However, one of the banners called on the teachers to wear masks, get tested and vaccinated in order to keep the schools open. The protesters hugged and sang the song Dan ljubezni (A day of love), Večer online also reported.
Journalists from the RTV and 24ur television stations and the newspaper Delo extensively reported on the protest. “As far as one could tell, this was a very colourful group of protesters, with different ideas, beliefs and backgrounds. What they all have in common, however, is that they have had enough of the anti-corona measures and that they are quite angry at the situation we have found ourselves in,” Janez Krušič Streguljc uncritically reported on TV Slovenia.
Igor Pirkovič, a long-time journalist, responded to Streguljc’s report with a lesson in journalism, writing the following on Twitter: “If you wanted to report on this event correctly, you would have to condemn the protest. Because it happens to be illegal and because it can prolong the way out of the epidemic.”
Bojan Požar also responded to the reports, writing: “Protests like this one, without masks and the safety distance, at a time when the epidemiologists are finding that for every confirmed case, there are likely two or three more people infected, are only possible with our dictatorship/the rule of terror, because the police of the democratic countries of the nuclear EU would quickly break a protest like this one up.”
According to the reports of TV Slovenia, the police officers were merely monitoring the protests. A few times, they also called on the protesters to respect the government measures and put on masks. But their calls were only accompanied by loud whistles and swearing. Several protesters allegedly even verbally attacked the TV Slovenia team during the protest.