KU Leuven bans nationalist union events on its premises after Van Langenhove lecture

KU Leuven is banning events by the nationalist student union NSV in its buildings at least until the end of 2025. It made the announcement on Thursday, following a lecture by far-right activist Dries Van Langenhove on its premises. 

Van Langenhove gave a lecture at the university’s Pedagogical Institute on Wednesday, at the invitation of the NSV. It was permitted on the understanding that it would be a lecture on regenerative agriculture. 

However, the former Vlaams Belang politician delivered an hour-long monologue in which, among other things, he labelled “black Africans” as inferior to “white Flemings and Europeans” and dismissed Roma women as thieves. 

"Expressions of sexism, racism, threats or denying the genocides determined by law will never be accepted or normalised by KU Leuven"

Shortly before the event, 150 people gathered outside on Ladeuzeplein to criticise the university for giving a platform to Van Langenhove, the founder of the Schild & Vrienden far-right organisation. A petition against his presence was signed more than 1,000 times. 

KU Leuven is now banning the NSV from using its premises until the end of 2025. “The statements, which were made under the guise of a lecture on regenerative agriculture, incite racism, and go against the core values of the university,” it said in a press release. It also intends to file a complaint against Van Langenhove’s statements.

“In its tradition of openness, the university also plays a facilitating role, making its infrastructure available for the widest possible range of social activities. The declaration on academic freedom and freedom of expression at KU Leuven is guiding in this respect,” it added. 

“Expressions of sexism, racism, threats or denying the genocides determined by law will never be accepted or normalised by KU Leuven.” 

Van Langenhove is currently on trial for violating Belgium's racism, negationism and weapons laws. A verdict is due on 12 March, and he has already said that he intends to appeal the verdict, believing he cannot receive a fair trial.

Last year, KU Leuven refused permission for a lecture by Martin Sellner, leader of the Austrian nationalist movement Identitären Bewegung Österreich, to take place on its premises, basing its decision on security issues.


#FlandersNewsService | A protest by anti-fascist organisation Platform Antifascistische Activisten Leuven during a lecture by far-right politician Dries Van Langenhove in Leuven, 28 February 2024 © BELGA PHOTO / VIDEO INE GILLIS

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