Coronavirus curfew rioting condemned by Dutch politicians

The rioting coincided with the first weekend of the new national coronavirus 9pm to 4.30am curfew.

A Covid-19 testing centre is set on fire in Urk
A Covid-19 testing centre is set on fire in Urk

Politicians and local leaders have condemned rioters who clashed with police in about 10 towns and cities across the Netherlands on the second night of a coronavirus curfew.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “It is unacceptable. This has nothing to do with protesting, this is criminal violence and that’s how we’ll treat it.”

Worst hit was Eindhoven, where police clashed with hundreds of rioters who torched a car, threw rocks and fireworks at officers, smashed windows and looted a supermarket at the city’s railway station.

A torched coronavirus testing facility in the Dutch fishing village of Urk
A torched coronavirus testing facility in the Dutch fishing village of Urk (AP/Peter Dejong)

“My city is crying, and so am I,” Eindhoven mayor John Jorritsma told media Sunday night.

In an emotional impromptu press conference, he called the rioters “the scum of the earth” and added “I am afraid that if we continue down this path, we’re on our way to civil war”.

The rioting coincided with the first weekend of the new national coronavirus 9pm to 4.30am curfew, but mayors stressed that the violence was not the work of citizens concerned about their civil liberties.

Hubert Bruls, mayor of the city of Nijmegen and leader of a group of local security organisations, said: “These demonstrations are being hijacked by people who only want one thing and that is to riot.”

Amsterdam police arrested 190 people amid rioting at a banned demonstration on Sunday while Eindhoven police detained at least 55. One woman who was not involved in the rioting in Eindhoven was injured.

In the eastern city of Enschede, rioters threw rocks at the windows of a hospital; on Saturday night, youths in the fishing village of Urk torched a coronavirus testing facility. Police in the southern province of Limburg said military police were sent as reinforcements to two cities.

Overseas development minister Sigrid Kaag told Dutch television: “There is absolutely no excuse. This is violence and I hope the police track down all these people and there are heavy punishments.”

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