DARWIN, Australia – Anti-vaxxers halted services Oct. 31 at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory (NT), during the community’s celebration of the OXI day which “marks the moment the country was dragged into World War II,” the Daily Mail reported.
“Anti-vaxxers began heckling” parishioners at St. Nicholas Church and “surprised onlookers filmed the moment anti-vaxxers compared the WWII conflict to vaccination mandates,” reported the Daily Mail.
“I’m going to ask this question,” said one woman, the Daily Mail reported. “If you can stand here and make a speech and say you can respect these people who died for us because we were defending our land that people were invading, what are we to do when people try to invade our bodies to us to have these same freedoms?
“Anti-vaxxers singled out Darwin Mayor Kon Vatskalis and Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro, who were also attending the service,” the Daily Mail reported, adding that “a woman was seen approaching Vatskalis from behind before shouting in his ear: ‘Do you know what you are commemorating today?’ she shouts.
Vatskalis ‘is seen trying to calm the woman down before he walks away’, the Daily Maile reported, noting that ‘she follows him and continues to scream in Greek’.
Vatskalis “later described the incident as ’embarrassing and disturbing,'” the Daily Mail reported.
“I am always loyal to vaccination and I always call on people to get vaccinated,” he told NT News, the Daily Mail reported. “The way people behaved was very threatening – it was a Greek national holiday, not a rally.”
“A service attendee, who wished to remain anonymous, said anti-vaxxers started heckling during the service before tensions escalated,” the Daily Mail reported.
“During the wreath laying ceremony, people were heckling from behind and once it was over, they [verbally] attacked Kon and Lia, it was like they were on a warpath,” she said, the Daily Mail reported.
A Northern Territory Police spokesman said ‘officers attended the church following reports of an altercation,’ the Daily Mail reported.
“Police spoke to a group of people at the church who advised the situation had calmed down and a police presence was not required,” the spokesman said, the Daily Mail reported, adding that “Police waited at the church while the group dispersed. No physical injuries were reported.”
“NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner earlier this month introduced widespread vaccination mandates for workers in a number of industries,” the Daily Mail reported, noting that “employees affected include teachers, people who work in customer service roles such as retail, finance, hospitality, veterinarians, gyms and beauty salons, as well as healthcare workers, child care workers children and those who care for vulnerable people.
Gunner said “workers subject to the policy must have received both doses by December 24 or face a $5,000 fine or be barred from their workplace,” the Daily Mail reported. .