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Lawsuit Filed against Mayor Who Tried to Shut Down NatCon in Brussels

MTI-Hungary Today 2024.05.16.

The Brussels headquarters of Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) is suing the mayor of the Brussels municipality Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Emir Kir, for attempting to violate the right to freedom of expression by banning one of the organization’s conferences in April, lawyer Yohann Rimokh announced on Wednesday in Brussels at the MCC’s Free Speech against Hate Speech event.

Yohann Rimokh, the legal representative of the lawsuit, said that the mayor of the district issued an administrative order banning the MCC’s National Conservatism Conference (NatCon) on April 16-17, “in order to guarantee public safety.” Emir Kir wrote on X: “Brussels, as well as the Belgian capital’s Etterbeek and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode districts, “do not welcome the extreme right.”

On the opening day, the event was interrupted by Belgian police. The organizers decided to challenge the order with the help of Vienna-based rights organization (ADF). The court set a hearing for 10 p.m. and after midnight issued its decision to annul the mayor’s order, allowing the conference to continue.

Emir Kir. Photo: X/Emir KIR

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that freedom of expression has been targeted in Brussels or in Belgium,”

explained Rimokh.

He said that there are shameful cases that affect all people, regardless of political persuasion, who believe in freedom of expression. However, this was the first time that an administrative order had been issued to prevent a conference at which the prime minister of a member state was also speaking. It was also the first time that Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo posted a message on his social networking site, calling the action of the district mayor unacceptable and unconstitutional.

For the first time, we have also seen international leaders echo these concerns in their statements, putting a global spotlight on bad practices that have become the norm in the heart of the European Union, in Brussels,”

said Yohann Rimokh.

MCC Brussels’ visiting scholar, Norman Lewis, pointed out that the Brussels political elite’s attempt to ban the National Conference of Conservatism was not an isolated attack on free speech in Europe. It fits a pattern of decades of EU policies to control the political narrative by cancelling events on similar grounds.

Anthony Gilland, MCC Brussels external relations officer, said the attempt to ban the conference was an attack on political actors who did not fit into the mainstream of EU discourse. “A concerted effort is underway in the EU to give the EU elite the power to define acceptable speech and to remove anything they consider politically dangerous.

What culminated in the recent attempt to block NatCon shows that certain forces are trying to stop events they do not like, to silence opinions they do not like,”

he added.

John O’Brien, Communications Director of MCC Brussels, stressed that the attempt to ban NatCon highlighted the fact that the elite in the Brussels bubble want to determine what the 448 million people in the EU countries can say, listen to, or think. In response, the MCC has launched a campaign, the Brussels Free Speech Declaration, to recognize the fundamental importance of freedom of expression, said O’Brien.

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Prof. Frank Füredi, director of MCC Burssels, wrote a detailed opinion piece on the experiences of the past days.Continue reading

Via MTI, Featured image: Hungary Today

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