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Scandal as Anti-free Speech Brussels Mayor Tries to Cancel NatCon Conference

Dániel Deme 2024.04.14.

The NatCon Conference in Brussels in 2022

The annual National Conservatism conference has found itself on the brink of being cancelled as far-left political pressure groups have threatened with protests in case the event goes ahead as planned between April 16-17 in Brussels. The key speech at the conference is to be delivered by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

News about threats and political pressure have started to seep out towards the end of this week, when on Friday the story finally broke in an exceptionally strong-worded article published by the Brussels Times, informing that the Concert Noble conference hall, where the event was supposed to be held, cancelled the conference. It is unknown whether the venue had come to such an extreme decision after intimidation by radical anarchists and left-wing groups out of concern over damage to their facilities, or whether its owners have yielded to political pressure.

Yet it is likely that the attack demanding the closure of the conference had been a well coordinated assault by far-left NGOs, progressive media outlets and political actors from the European left.


Polish MEP Ryszard Legutko (L) and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will both be among the speakers at the conference. Photo: Facebook Viktor Orbán.

Media reporting about the conference is teaming with emotionally charges adjectives such as far-sight, extremists, post-fascists, radical, etc. Authors of these articles claim that the speakers are determined to attack refugees and minority rights, and are apparently preparing to spread hate-speech. The German Stuttgarter-Zeitung, went as far as suggesting that canceling the event is in fact an act of “fighting for democracy”, before, similarly to several other liberal-progressive propaganda outlets, went on to accusing the NatCon conference of right-wing extremism, the participants of being “opponents of the EU”, of “inflammatory speeches against migrants”, and worst of all, of climate change denial.

The main political actor behind the calls to cancel the National Conservatism conference was Brussels’ socialist mayor Philippe Close, who had reportedly asked the venue to close its doors to the event. Owners of the conference center, Edificio, have only released a statement in which they characterized their shocking decision to cancel such a high-profile event attended by an acting head-of-government as an act of respect for “key European values of democracy”. In their statement they did not deliberate on how expelling mainstream conservative politicians, such as the former British Home Secretary Suella Braverman, or church leaders such as Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller from their venue is expected to contribute to “European values”.

The Belgian Anti-Fascist Coordination (CAB), however, told Brussels Times that they welcome Edificio’s decision to cancel the conference, as “freedom of speech never justifies hate speech”.

The Edmund Burke Foundation (EBF), organizers of the event, alongside the Hungarian Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) Brussels, were in a race against time to find a replacement for the venue, and signs are that they have found one that will indeed welcome NatCon on Tuesday. Yoram Hazony of the EBF tweeted saying that “If Brussels can not host both sides of the argument, then maybe the capital of Europe can not be in Brussels”.

Prof. Frank Füredi, director of MCC Burssels, co-organizers of the event, wrote on his social media page that “attempts by anti-democratic zealots to cancel the meeting will fail. Those supporting the meeting vow to never to bend the knee to threats and intimidation… The venue cited fears about security following threats from anti-democratic “Antifa” organisations…

What has happened in these last few days represents nothing less than a crisis for free speech and political expression for all of Europe.

It is an absolute tragedy that cancel culture has been welcomed into Brussels: the very heart of the European Union. Everyone, regardless of political affiliation, should be concerned about what is happening here.” “The battle for free speech is now taking place, and all people of goodwill should be prepared to fight for all our rights to free thought and expression. We must tell the world they tried to cancel us in Brussels, but freedom will prevail”, wrote Prof. Füredi.

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Featured Image: Facebook Natcon

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