The City of Brussels will ban the rally organised by the far-right Vlaams Belang party and set to take place in the capital next Monday. The party has contested the decision, saying it will go to court over it.
Vlaams Belang's chair Tom Van Grieken will be walking from Ostend to Brussels between 19 and 29 May with the slogan “Make them listen!"
The far-right leader was planning to speak and listen to as many potential voters as possible. The walk was expected to culminate in a big protest near the capital's Central Station on Whit Monday, at 14:00.
However, the office of Brussels Mayor Philippe Close confirmed that both the Vlaams Belang rally and the counter-demonstration would be banned, noting that a police analysis found that "a smoothing running" of both gatherings could not be guaranteed.
Vlaams Belang announced on Thursday evening that it would legally challenge the decision and is going to the Council of State to overturn it.
"This is a mockery of freedom of expression," Van Grieken responded. "Nobody believes that this decision is motivated by anything other than political reasons."
- Parties at opposite ends of the Flemish political spectrum gain ground in latest poll
- 'If Vlaams Belang cleans its act, why not?': De Wever hints at Flemish nationalist coalition
Van Grieken also stressed that the meeting would go ahead either way. “We will not let Flemish people be silenced and will not leave it at that. Our protest meeting will go ahead, whether the politicians in Brussels like it or not," he said in a statement.
Earlier this month, another event organised by the far-right political party — a "provocative" walk through Saint-Josse-ten-Noode with French author and convicted conspiracy theorist, Renaud Camus — was also banned by the mayor Emir Kir.
Since 1989 in Belgian politics, a cordon sanitaire has been used by traditional parties to isolate and exclude the far right-wing Vlaams Blok – who dissolved after a trial in 2004 which condemned the party for racism. Vlaams Belang is a rebrand of Vlaams Blok.