Police descend on conservative conference with order from left-wing mayor to cancel the event

Police stand guard outside the front entrance of the event venue as the National Conservatism conference takes place in Brussels, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Sylvain Plazy)
By Thomas Brooke
5 Min Read

A major conference in Brussels hosting some of Europe’s most prominent conservative politicians has been shut down by police officers under the order of the local left-wing mayor.

The two-day National Conservatism Conference finally went ahead early on Tuesday having secured a third venue to host the event after two other premises in the Belgian capital pulled the plug on holding it due to political pressure from local politicians.

Conservative broadcaster Nigel Farage and former U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman were due to deliver keynote speeches on Tuesday, followed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and former Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Wednesday.

However, after little more than an hour, Belgian police arrived at the entrance of The Claridge building in downtown Brussels with an order from Emir Kir, mayor of the city’s Saint-Josse-ten-Noode region, to scrap the event.

Organizers were told they had 15 minutes to vacate the premises, an order that was not complied with as lawyers were called in to scrutinize the written demand.

Remix News understands the order cited public safety as a reason to cancel the event, claiming that a protest was planned later that day by anti-fascists demonstrating about the conservative faction being in town and that police officers couldn’t guarantee their well-being.

Police officers entered the building, causing attendees to believe the event was going to be forcefully canceled, before turning around and leaving as conference-goers and speakers were left in limbo on whether the event would continue.

Frank Furedi, the director of the MCC Brussels think tank and one of the organizers, revealed the extent to which the conference had been targeted by activists and politicians in recent days.

“The mayor has come and said we have to leave. Fortunately, this time the guy who runs the place stood firm, but then they towed his car away. They threatened him with all kinds of consequences. In the meantime, they managed to get everybody who was supplying us with stuff to pull out. So, the caterer getting the food together for the gala dinner tonight has pulled out. They then threatened to cut the energy here and electricity,” he told Brussels Signal.

Despite the chaos outside the venue as police blocked attendees and speakers from re-entering, the conference continued as Farage and Braverman delivered their messages before exiting.

“What just happened in Brussels this afternoon was a disgrace. For the mayor and police to shut down a peaceful political event makes me more convinced of Brexit than ever,” Farage posted on X after leaving the event.

Speaking to Remix News, attendee Nikodem Bernaciak, a lawyer and senior analyst at the Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture, said, “The ban on the conference clearly violates the fundamental values confirmed, for example, in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which are freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

“This situation shows that Brussels Eurocrats treat the literal wording of legal provisions only as an excuse to gradually exclude European nationalists and conservatives from public debate.”

It is unclear whether conference organizers will attempt to continue with the event also billed for Wednesday.

A statement on the National Conservatism X account confirmed it would seek to challenge the order to shut down the event in the courts. “There is no public disturbance and no grounds to shut down a gathering of politicians, intellectuals, journalists, students, civic leaders, and concerned citizens.”

Bernaciak told Remix News that “everything indicates that tomorrow the conference will be held in a different location.

“This will be the fourth change of location, because the previous two locations crumbled due to blackmail by left-wing activists. Now it looks like we will have to change the location again.”

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