Posted on April 17, 2024

Belgian Court Strikes Down Left-Wing Mayor’s Order as NatCon Resumes for Second Day

Thomas Brooke, Remix, April 17, 2024

The National Conservatism Conference will resume for its second day on Wednesday after a Belgian court struck down an order from a left-wing local Brussels mayor shutting down the event.

NatCon’s lawyers were embroiled in a legal battle late on Tuesday before the Conseil d’État, the highest court in Belgium relating to issues of public administration, which ruled the conference should be allowed to proceed without interference from state authorities.

ADF International, a legal organization committed to the protection of free speech, backed the legal challenge and was before a judge at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday before receiving the verdict in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

statement from ADF International revealed the court had ruled that Article 26 of the Belgian constitution “grants everyone the right to assemble peacefully” and that local mayor Emir Kir’s reliance on revoking this right based on “serious disturbance of the public peace” was unjustified.

“The Court reasoned that ‘it does not seem possible to infer from the contested decision that a peace-disrupting effect is attributed to the congress itself.’ Rather, as the decision notes, ‘the threat to public order seems to be derived purely from the reactions that its organization might provoke among opponents,’” the advocacy group added.

“In allowing the National Conservatism Conference to continue, the Administrative Court has come down on the side of basic human rights,” said Paul Coleman, ADF International lawyer. “While common sense and justice have prevailed, what happened yesterday is a dark mark on European democracy. No official should have the power to shut down free and peaceful assembly merely because he disagrees with what is being said.

“How can Brussels claim to be the heart of Europe if its officials only allow one side of the European conversation to be heard?” he asked.

The mayor’s decision received widespread condemnation on Tuesday from politicians across European nation-states, including surprisingly Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

Others, including U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose Conservative Party was represented by Miriam Cates and Suella Braverman on the list of Tuesday’s speakers, and Italian premier Giorgia Meloni were also critical.

“It’s very clear that canceling events or preventing attendance and non-platforming speakers is damaging to free speech and democracy as a result,” a spokesperson for the British prime minister told journalists. “It’s very clear that free debate and exchange of views is vital. Even when you disagree.”

Meloni, meanwhile, praised De Croo’s intervention and said “all the victims of this unjustifiable abuse, particularly the ECR members present,” had her “total solidarity.”

The conference resumed on Wednesday morning and is expected to platform speakers including Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, former Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and France’s Reconquête President Éric Zemmour, who Remix News understands will be given a slot after being refused access to the venue by police officers on Tuesday.