UK police arrest two over leaflets comparing COVID vaccinations to Holocaust

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LONDON (Reuters) - British police said on Thursday they had arrested two men on suspicion of distributing a leaflet with material that appeared to compare the COVID-19 vaccination to the Holocaust.

The men, aged 73 and 37, are accused of circulating the leaflet in south London in late January.

According to the Evening Standard newspaper, the leaflet featured a cartoon of the Auschwitz death camp where more than 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, perished, with the sign above its gate changed from “Arbeit macht frei” (work sets you free) to "Vaccines are safe path to freedom".

"Absolutely sickened by anti-vax conspiracy theory crackpot leaflets put through some doors today," one local lawmaker Neil Coyle said on Twitter on Sunday. "Hideous imagery and asking (police) for action against these disgusting, dangerous cranks."

Britain is currently rolling out a mass vaccination programme and more than 10 million people have been given their first shots of the COVID vaccine.

However, there have been a number of protests in the capital from opponents of the vaccine with experts warning that a sizeable minority of people believe conspiracy theories about the vaccinations or the coronavirus itself.

The 73-year-old is suspected of malicious communications and public nuisance, and the 37-year-old was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence. They have been released on police bail until a date in early March.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by William James and Kate Holton)