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Belgian bar owner founds religion to bypass lockdown rules

Café Crayon in Summer 2019, before the coronavirus measures. Credit: Facebook/Crayon Oostende

A Belgian bar owner has made headlines across the country after announcing that he would start his own religion in order to take advantage of current coronavirus rules allowing allows religious ceremonies, but forces bars to stay shut.

Xavier Troisi, owner of the Café Crayon in Ostend, took to Facebook to announce his revelations, which will in principle allow him to see 15 clients every Sunday.

“Followers, worshippers and other fans! Those who believe in Crayonism are now welcome to attend the service every Sunday at 11:00 AM,” Troisi, wrote in the purely satirical post. Despite growing interest in his claim, Troisi made it clear he had no intention of actually going through with the plan.

“For the sake of clarity, I certainly do not intend to start my own religious community,” he told The Brussels Times. “It was more an accumulation of frustrations expressed in a pseudo-joking post.”

“I think the authorities send out the wrong signal by allowing one community to do what others are not allowed to do,” Troisi said, referring to the overturn of the ban on religious services by the Council of State, following complaints from the Jewish community.

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From last Sunday, religious services can now take place with a maximum of 15 attendees again, but similar relaxations for other sectors do not seem to be an option.

“I do not think that you should make an exception for something that concerns people’s private life like this, while families continue to experience tragedies because their businesses have to be closed,” Troisi said.

He stressed that he is not only talking about the hospitality industry, but many others who are self-employed, and are having trouble making ends meet as well.

“Is it really more dangerous to have one person sit in a hairdresser’s chair than to have 15 people attending a service? Is working on someone’s nails behind plexiglass or sitting in a chair to get a tattoo more dangerous than that?”

Troisi stressed that, while he himself is not a practising believer, he understands that people feel the need to attend a service. His issue is not the relaxed rule, but the double standard.

“With all these different rules, the government ensures that the togetherness and unity that people fell back on during the first lockdown can no longer be found,” he said.

“I am certainly not against the measures, I understand that they are necessary, and I follow them myself, like I did this summer: fewer tables, less staff, buying masks, gel,” Troisi said.

As far as the café owner is concerned, the hospitality industry can remain closed until March, if that means they can reopen right away and have a great season.

“Let us have everyone do everything they can, so that we can open fully, without running the risk of having to close again,” he said. “The current situation is already dramatic, but that would turn it into a true tragedy.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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