Hundreds march against racism in Brussels

Several hundred people took to the streets of Brussels on Sunday afternoon to demonstrate against racism and to call for equal rights. 

According to the organisers, more than 10,000 demonstrators were present, while Brussels police put the number at around 2,100.

The initiative for the demonstration came from several organisations, including the collective Platform 2103, which is supported by around 170 civil society organisations. 

The central message of Sunday's march was that no one should be a second-class citizen: "Discrimination denies people with migrant backgrounds the right to quality employment, education and (social) housing," the organisers said.

'Racism and discrimination divide society'

Although discrimination is illegal in Belgium, there are hardly any checks by the authorities and the number of convictions is very low, the demonstrators said. 

"Racism and discrimination divide our society into first and second class citizens. Failing to respond to racism and discrimination as a society and a government paves the way for the far right," they said.

The demonstrators called for a government that guarantees equal rights, including active detection through practice tests and effective punishment of discrimination.

"The extreme right is and remains a huge threat to democracy"

The demonstration was joined by the ABVV/FGTB and ACV trade unions, Amnesty International, Greenpeace and the Human Rights League, among others. "The fight against racism is unfortunately still very topical," said Ann Vermorgen of the ACV.

"The extreme right is and remains a huge threat to democracy," said Thierry Bodson of the FGTB. "Political democracy, but also economic democracy in companies and factories. The extreme right wants to curtail individual and collective rights and sow division in the labour market, pitting those who work against those who cannot work".

Focus on police brutality

The demonstration also drew attention to racism within the police force and police brutality. One of the speakers was Ayoub Bouda, the brother of Mehdi Bouda, who was killed in a collision with a police vehicle in August 2019. 

"We are being flooded with hatred when all we want is the truth and justice"

"Since his death, we have been trying to do nothing but make my brother a human being again, because racism dehumanised him, presented him as a criminal, a thug, as if that would justify his death," Bouda said.

"Since his death, people have been trying to silence him to death, to make sure he is not talked about. We are being flooded with hatred when all we want is the truth and justice."



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