Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Freedom of assembly, Belgian style

Yesterday there was an illegal demonstration against the islamisation of Europe in Brussels.

It was supposed to be a fairly big demonstration, but Freddy Thielemans, the mayor of Brussels, banned it on the basis that it would piss Muslims off and therefore disturb the public order.

While it is, of course, funny that the mayor of Brussels decided to make the demonstrators' point for them, the whole thing is alarming, for two reasons:

1) If Muslims become violent when a group of citizens expresses their opinion, or if there is a credible reason to believe that they might, then the islamization of Europe, or at least of Brussels, has alreagy progressed pretty damn far.

2) If demonstrations are banned because somebody who doesn't like them might become violent, it means that anyone can get anyone else's demonstration banned by producing a sufficiently credible threat. Do you wanna guess whether this will reduce or raise the number of threats?

Anyway, the ban kept most of the prospective demonstrators away, but 200 people or so did show up. They did not do anything violent (at least until being dragged to the police car) or incite to violence. There was a number of politicians among them, including two of the leaders of the Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang, and an Italian MEP.

Police almost outnumbered (and, by some reports, really outnumbered) the demonstrators, and arrested 154 of them. Wow. 154 out of 200 is almost like in the old Soviet Union.

Seriously, has anyone ever heard of a peaceful demonstration in a Western country where over 75% of the participants got arrested?

For the record: Muslims did not attack the demonstration or do anything else violent.

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