Right-wing conference in Brussels shut down by police after mayor's intervention

Authorities in Brussels have ordered the closure a gathering of high-profile right-wing figures from around Europe. The National Conservatism Conference (NatCon) was being held in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode on Tuesday after two other venues in the city decided against hosting it.

The socialist mayor of Saint-Josse, Emir Kir, issued a police order with immediate effect to shut down the summit to avoid possible disruption to public order. “There is a risk of public disorder if this conference takes place,” Kir said, based on the advice of police and the national Coordination Unit for Threat Assessment.

Some 40 prominent conservative, religious and far-right figures were attending the event, including Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, former British minister Suella Braverman, former British MEP Nigel Farage, former Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki and French writer and politician Éric Zemmour. MEP for Vlaams Belang Tom Vandendriessche was also due to speak.

In his speech, referring to Kir's decision to shut down the event, Farage said it “came as no surprise”. “We are up against an evil ideology,” he said. “We are up against a new form of communism.”

In a statement on X, the organisers said they would legally challenge the order to shut down the event at the Saint-Josse venue. "There is no public disturbance and no grounds to shut down a gathering of politicians, intellectuals, journalists, students, civic leaders, and concerned citizens," they said.

The conference was initially moved from the Concert Noble in the European quarter to the Sofitel Brussels Europa hotel in Etterbeek. After that venue decided to withdraw permission, the organisers diverted to the Claridge event hall where the conference began on Tuesday morning.


Former MEP Nigel Farage leaves the building after police block the entrance to the NatCon event in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Brussels, 16 April 2024 © BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE

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