‘A terrible explosion of violence’: Fear and revolt spreads in the Netherlands

The violent response to lockdown measures has shocked many with the defence minister calling rioters ‘scum’, reports Rory Sullivan

Tuesday 26 January 2021 18:50
Curfew protesters in Haarlem clash with Dutch police

Residents in the Dutch port town of Urk woke up on Sunday to find their coronavirus testing centre in ruins, scorched by rioters the night before.

This arson attack was not a one-off incident. In towns and cities across the Netherlands, police have scrambled to contain violent protests that erupted on Saturday, when the country’s latest coronavirus measure – the first curfew since the Second World War – came into effect. The restriction prohibits citizens from being outside from 9pm until 4.30am each day.  

The violence shows no sign of abating. Instead, it is spreading, taking in the country’s major cities and potentially exposing fault lines in Dutch society which may go far beyond rejection of the latest lockdown rules.

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