DARWIN, Australia – Anti-vaxxers disrupted the services on October 31 at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory (NT), during the community’s celebration of OXI Day which “marks the moment the country was dragged into World War II,” the Daily Mail reported.
“Anti-vaxxers began heckling” the parishioners at St Nicholas Church and “startled service-goers filmed the moment anti-vaxxers compared the World War II conflict to vaccine mandates,” the Daily Mail reported.
“I’m going to ask this question,” one woman said, the Daily Mail reported. “If you can stand up here and make a speech and say you can respect these people that died for us because we were defending our land that people were invading, what are we expected to do when people are trying to invade our bodies in order for us to have those same freedoms?”
“The anti-vaxxers singled out Darwin lord mayor Kon Vatskalis and opposition leader Lia Finocchiaro who were also attending the service,” the Daily Mail reported, adding that “one woman was seen approaching Vatskalis from behind before shouting in his ear: ‘Do you know what you are commemorating today?’ she yells.”
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 shout in Greek.”
Vatskalis “later described the incident as ’embarrassing and disturbing,’” the Daily Mail reported.
“I am still steadfast about the vaccination and still call people to get vaccinated,” he told NT News, the Daily Mail reported. “The way people behaved was very threatening – it was a Greek National Day, not a rally.”
“A service-goer, who wished to remain anonymous, said the anti-vaxxers began heckling during the service before tensions escalated,” the Daily Mail reported.
“During the laying of the wreath 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 spokesperson said “officers had 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 wasn’t required,” the spokesperson said, the Daily Mail reported, adding that “police waited at the church while the group dispersed. There are no reports of any physical injuries.”
“NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner earlier this month introduced widespread vaccination mandates for workers across a number of industries,” the Daily Mail reported, noting that “employees impacted include teachers, people who work in customer service roles such as retail, finance, hospitality, vets, gyms, and beauty salons, and health care workers, child care workers, and those who care for the vulnerable.”
Gunner said that “workers subject to the policy need to have received both doses by December 24 or would face a $5000 fine or be barred from their workplaces,” the Daily Mail reported.