From the desk of The Brussels Journal on Tue, 2007-09-11 14:42
While our editor Paul Belien is still entangled in the SIOE-demonstration in Brussels, we bring you a report by Baron Bodissey from Gates of Vienna, who has been monitoring the situation and who has been in contact by telephone with some of the demonstrators—LVB
I just received a phone call from Aeneas, a British blogger who is in Brussels for the SIOE demonstration. It was hard to hear him during our conversation due to the sirens in the background.
The demonstration is proceeding, and, despite the rumors in advance, the Brussels police are not allowing the demonstrators to protest without hindrance. People are being dragged away by the police and put into buses.
Flyboy then got on the phone and told me that riot police have been deployed, and that dogs and water cannon are being used against the demonstrators. There has been no violence except by the police. I could hear the demonstrators chanting and dogs barking in the background.
Paul Belien of the Brussels Journal was the next person to talk to me. He says that there are maybe 500 demonstrators in Schuman Square, and that many of those are being arrested and carried away. He has seen Danish, Swedish, British, American, and Canadian flags on display.
There is a large contingent of Vlaams Belang (the Flemish separatist party) at the demonstration, and the party’s leaders are among those arrested. Mr. Belien says that the president of the party, Frank Venhecke, was beaten to the ground by the police, arrested, and put into a bus.
It seems that the police are trying to arrest everybody at the demonstration. I will add updates when I hear more.
Belgian riot police officers arrest Vlaams Belang’s President Frank Vanhecke.
According to Flyboy, there are video cameras from local media everywhere, so we should eventually see this in the news.
So far there is nothing about it on Google News.
This just came up in via Google News, from Expatica:
Dewinter to attend banned protest
Vlaams Belang figureheads Filip Dewinter and Frank Vanhecke plan to take part in the banned demonstration against the “Islamisation of Europe” on the Schumanplein in Brussels.
“We will look at what the situation is, but our plan is to join the protest,” says party chairman Vanhecke, who, as member of the European Parliament, will also be receiving the organisation’s list of demands.
“It is not our demonstration, but we sympathise with the aims. I also expect that quite a few of our people will be there.”
On its website the party distances itself from “marginal and obscure neo-Nazi groups that might try to steal the spotlight.”
As reported earlier (see below), Frank Vanhecke is among those arrested.
Henrik, in the comments, has this to say:
I just got a phone call from a friend of mine. They heard rumours of arrests, but they’re fine, no mass arrests where they are. They are debating if they dare put up their banners.
The story from Paul sounds solid, too. Could there be two separate groups?
That might be the case. But when I spoke to my contacts on the phone, all three reported that police were using their batons while they arrested people and put them in buses.
And here’s something I forgot to report earlier: Aeneas said that people were lying down in front of the police buses, to try to keep them from departing with their cargo of arrested demonstrators.
I haven’t been able to find any news of this on the web in English, but our Swedish correspondent SD just sent his amended machine translation of an item from Brussel Nieuws (further amendations by me):
Brussels—The organizers of the prohibited anti-Islam meeting have this midday tried to demonstrate in Luxemburg Square. But the police force of Brussels arrested the participators systematically. The Vlaams Belang protests in the meantime in Schuman Square against the meeting prohibition.
The police force is massively present in the European Union district to prevent riots. The participators do not get the chance to demonstrate in Luxemburg Square. As soon as they appear they are immediately arrested. Also the foreign press is clearly visible, present on the square. Of the expected thousands of participators is little talk: in Luxemburg Square about 200 people collected, in Schuman Square about ten—especially members of the Vlaams Belang. They protest against the meeting prohibition by Brussels mayor Freddy Thielemans (PS). He prohibited the demonstration because security could not be definitely assured. Vlaams Belang leaders Frank Vanhecke and Philip Dewinter were this midday arrested in Schuman Square and were taken away by the police force.
In spite of a prohibition by some of the organizers of the movement “Stop the Islamisation of Europe” (SIOE), their followers have nevertheless come down on 11 September to Brussels. The activists say they want stop the invasion of Islamic customs into Europe. Of the organizers, German Udo Ulfkotte from Pax Europe officially distanced himself last week from the event.
The latest word from the field:
I just got a call from Flyboy, and he reports that the demo is over. Marchers who started at Luxemburg Square were prevented from reaching Schuman Square, which is where all the arrests took place. He has video, photos, and interviews, including footage of Vlaams Belang members being beaten to the ground and arrested.
Neither he nor any of the people with him (including Paul Belien and Aeneas) were arrested. The conclusion seems to be that the members of Vlaams Belang were specifically targeted for arrest.
I hope to have some of the visual material before long.
Police in the Belgian capital, Brussels, have arrested two far-right political leaders at a protest against the “Islamisation of Europe”.
Police clashed with some of the 200 demonstrators and dozens more people were reported to have been arrested.
The mayor of Brussels had banned the protest, held on the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the US.
Frank Vanhecke and Filip Dewinter of the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) party were arrested.
Vlaams Belang has been critical of Muslim immigration to Belgium.
The mayor of Brussels, Freddy Thielemans, banned the protest last month for fear it would cause problems with the city’s immigrant population.
The protest organisers had promised a large turn-out, but the approximately 200 protesters were nearly outnumbered by police and reporters.