Several hundred people gathered yesterday in the Cinquantenaire park in Brussels to protest at the prospect of a Covid-19 vaccination being a mandatory requirement to take part in certain activities.
Police reported at one point that the crowd numbered 1,500. Those taking part marched from the park to the entrance to the French-speaking broadcaster RTBF in Schaerbeek, carrying placards with slogans like “Save our democracy” and “Protect our children”.
The two French-speaking broadcasters, RTBF and RTL, were accused of presenting a one-sided picture of the vaccination issue, and of being a mouthpiece for the government and the pharmaceutical industry.
"We have the right to be informed other than by propagandists," one speaker said.
The protest, which had the permission of the local police zone, was organised by David Bouillon, a general practitioner from Mons who is militantly anti-vaccine, and who has launched a legal procedure against the Belgian state and the European Commission on the issue.
The protesters also called for the resignation of Caroline Désir, minister for education in the French Community, who has campaigned for vaccinations in schools.
“Everyone should have their own choice," said one protester. "I have nothing against people who have been vaccinated, but they should not force it on me or my children."
Meanwhile, federal home affairs minister Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) announced that preparations are underway to extend the use of the Covid Safe Ticket for events in Brussels.
The main reason is that Brussels is still limping behind the rest of the country in terms of the rate of vaccination. According to the latest figures, only 65% of adults in the capital have received a first dose, and 62% a second. Nationwide, the corresponding numbers are 85.4% and 83.5%.
"I don't think we should impose measures if it's not necessary," she told the VRT. "For example, we have a very high vaccination rate in Flanders, partly due to the efforts of many volunteers."
Preparations are underway in Brussels for the extension of the corona-pass, which is already a widespread feature in other countries, such as France and Italy.