Hundreds of pro-lifers lined the streets Saturday in Zurich, Switzerland, with colorful banners and flags calling for restored protections for unborn babies.
Meanwhile, police attempted to quell a pro-abortion counter-protest that turned violent. Swiss Broadcasting Corporation reports police briefly detained 175 people and arrested at least one on charges of violence and threats against authorities.
Pro-life advocates have held, or tried to hold, a pro-life march in September every year in Switzerland. However, the peaceful, family-oriented event has been met with repeated violence. In 2017, pro-life leaders canceled the event because of threats of violence, according to Human Life International.
This year, the Swiss march celebrated its 10th anniversary by highlighting the value of children with Down syndrome and other special needs. Approximately 1,200 people attended.
“… we showed the joy in the lives of people with Down syndrome with pictures and music and took a look into their everyday lives,” the march website states. The organizers cited statistics about the high rate of abortion on unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome and urged their society to support families, not abortion.
“People with Down syndrome, like all of us, have the right to live for a single, but always valid reason: because they are human, inviolable persons, God’s creatures, created according to his image and likeness,” said Catholic Bishop Peter Bürcher, who spoke at the march.
The pro-life march was approved by authorities, but the pro-abortion counter-protest was not, according to the report. Police reportedly told the abortion activists that they could rally in the park but they could not form a procession without the approval of the city.
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Here’s more from the report:
Nevertheless, shortly after 2:45pm several people walked to Turbinenplatz. Some of them pushed prams containing things to throw.
In order to avoid a confrontation between pro- and anti-abortion demonstrators, the police fired rubber bullets and irritants at the unauthorised procession. In return, the police officers faced a volley of bottles, stones and other projectiles. Several small groups also tried to cross police roadblocks.
At the same time, people set fire to containers in several places and blocked streets with construction material. Some of the firefighters who came to extinguish the flames were attacked and injured.
As a result of the violence, police had to stop the March for Life temporarily and re-route it, the report continues.
“It’s terrible what happened,” said Beatrice Gall, spokeswoman for the March for Life. “The tolerance that these violent groups demand does not accord them to others at all. This has not lost anything in a democratic constitutional state such as Switzerland.”
Police said two officers were injured when objects were thrown at them. Photos and Swiss news reports show pro-abortion protesters throwing flaming objects and overturning trash cans.
The news outlet 20 Minuten reported massive damage to a police vehicle as well. It linked the pro-abortion counter-protesters to the Young Socialists group Juso.
“The Young Socialists are disappointed that the police responded to a legitimate protest with such force,” the group said in a statement to the news outlet.
“It can not be that Christian fundamentalists in Zurich can spread their hate,” co-president Anna Luna Frauchiger added. She also said her group “condemns violence” and was not involved in the illegal activities.
Thousands of unborn babies are aborted every year in Switzerland. The nation also is widely known for “suicide tourism” because of its laws allowing assisted suicide.