Belgian Town Blasts Music to Drive Out Gipsies

Telegraph (London), July 16, 2014

A group of Roma camped by a Belgian town faced a rude awakening on Wednesday: the mayor ordered that they be blasted with music to drive them away.

The Roma had arrived on Sunday in Landen, some 50 km (30 miles) east of the Belgian capital of Brussels. They agreed with a landowner to park 14 caravans there until Tuesday, according to Gino Debroux, the Landen mayor.

“Since then, they’ve said they won’t leave and they’re there with 30 caravans,” Mr Debroux told Reuters by telephone. “This is an industrial site and is not designed for camping.”

He said the group’s refusal to leave had led him to hire a DJ to play music from Wednesday morning, starting around 9 a.m.

“This is a way of putting pressure on them. It was very difficult to negotiate with the gipsy king, as he called himself,” Mr Debroux said.

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Debroux said the music had been limited to a maximum 95 decibels, equivalent to the sound of a pneumatic drill from 50 feet (15 metres) away.

Local media said that the DJ kicked off his set with Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing”. Belgian television showed Roma children dancing to the music.

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Music played until shortly after midday. The Roma then agreed with the police to leave by Thursday.

The stunt led to a stream of reactions on social media, including some from fellow members of Debroux’s socialist Sp.a party.

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