The organisers of the march against coronavirus measures that resulted in riots in Brussels three weeks ago is looking to organise another demonstration on 9 January 2022.
Samen voor Vrijheid was the organisation behind the protest on Sunday 21 November that drew 35,000 people to the capital (a figure that organisers inflate to some 74,000 attendees). According to reports by Belga News Agency, it expects twice the number of attendees at the start of the new year.
The news was first announced on the personal Facebook account of Sarah Melis, one of the organisers. But the post has since been deleted as an official permit for the march to go ahead has not yet been given.
One organise claims to have contacted the Brussels Ixelles police zone about the protest but the police zone’s spokesperson, Ilse Van de keere, told The Brussels Times that it has not received an official request for a protest.
The police zone itself only gives advice on the protest; it is up to Brussels’ mayor Philippe Close to authorise such demonstrations, Van de keere explained. When asked on Friday morning, the mayor’s cabinet had not yet received a request from the organisers.
‘Better signal’ second time around
According to co-organiser Ezra Armakye, the process of submitting an application for a permit is ongoing. He added that, in light of riots breaking out on the fringes of the previous demonstration (which resulted in the arrest of 44 people and wide-scale damage across the capital), the organisers are looking to give a better signal of their cause.
“We are looking at setting up preventive measures and ask all demonstrators to work together in a different, more positive way during the next march, in order to give a better signal to the media and for a more positive representation of our cause,” he told The Brussels Times.
The organisers of the demonstrations, which were largely peaceful, have since claimed that the police itself was responsible for riots breaking out and have consequently filed the complaint with Committee P, the Belgian body that oversees the police.
On Sunday, another demonstration will take place in Brussels named ‘March for Freedom’. This is not linked to the Samen voor Vrijheid protest and is organised by the predominantly French-speaking Belgium United For Freedom. Fewer participants are expected.
The march is due to start at the North Station at 1:00 PM and will protest against mandatory vaccination, the Covid Safe Ticket and the general management of the pandemic.