Belgium: Mayor bans and then disperses anti-Semitic, ultra-right assembly
Authorities in Belgium have banned an assembly at which several figures of the French ultra-right, including the controversial French comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, were scheduled to appear. Police used water cannon to disperse the mob after city officials in Brussels decided the assembly should be dissolved.
The meeting, called "The First European Congress of Dissent", was scheduled for Sunday afternoon in the Anderlecht quarter of Brussels. Eric Tomas, mayor of that municipal department, told Reuters he had issued an edict banning the assembly because there was a clear danger it would disturb public order.
The official ban was confirmed on Sunday evening by the Belgium State Council, which performs the function of the country's highest court of administration. The meeting had been organized by a small ultra-right group called Debout, Les Belges (which freely translated means "Rise Up, Belgians").
Alain Soral, an author of ultra-right treatises, and Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, the inventor of the controversial gesture called the "quenelle", which is perceived as an inverted Nazi salute and considered an expression of anti-Semitism, were scheduled to appear at the assembly. Despite the authorities' measures, roughly 500 people gathered in the hall where it was to take place.
The Brussels Police halted the assembly that evening and used water cannon to disperse the mob. No one was arrested.
Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, who is the son of a man from Cameroon and a Frenchwoman, spent a long time actively speaking out against racism. Later, however, he began to associate with representatives of the French ultra-right National Front and began taking harsh swipes at Jews in his one-man shows.
His show called "Le Mur" ("The Wall") has prompted controversy in France, where the Interior Ministry believes it is tinged with anti-Semitism and racism and it was banned by the justice system at the start of the year. Belgian MP Laurent Louis, who leads the Debout, Les Belges movement, has condemned the way in which the Brussels authorities proceeded with respect to his assembly.
"We saw a total display of anti-democracy... We are now living in the Soviet Republic of Belgium. All of our rights are being flouted," Louis told his followers, promising to convene a "private" meeting that evening with candidates from his political group.
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