Brussels Mobility Minister Pascal Smet has apologized for comparing Brussels to a prostitute, following angry reactions by the region’s politicians to his remarks, made in an audio interview with Politico magazine. The minister, who is from the Different Socialist Party, sp.a, admitted that the comparison was “not appropriate”.
Politico had interviewed Smet on the urban and organizational qualities and defects of Europe’s capital. During the interview, he said he often compared Brussels “to a prostitute”. He described the city as beautiful and exciting while, at the same time, it can be repulsive; beautiful in its ugliness and ugly in its beauty, adding that once you fall in love with Brussels, you remain in love.
His remarks drew a storm of angry reactions on Twitter, especially from Prime Minister Charles Michel (Reformist Movement) and the ruling majority in Brussels. Laurette Onkelinx (Socialist Party) denounced the dishonour the minister had thus inflicted on Brussels “before the whole of Europe”, adding that prostitutes also have a right to respect.
Brussels Prime Minister Rudi Vervoort (PS) also reacted, tweeting: “Stop Brussels Bashing is something that applies to everyone, starting with the members of my government”.
In his apology, Smet wrote: “Brussels is a city of dualities. It’s attractive and at the same time unattractive. That was the message and I apologise for it. Anyone who knows me also knows my endless love for Brussels, my city.”
The Brussels Times