The mayor of Schaerbeek on Wednesday said he intends to file a complaint after protesters on Tuesday clashed violently with police outside a school in the municipality targeted by allegations of sexual abuse of a four-year-old girl. Ongoing since Monday, the protests, in which as many as 200 people participated, came to a head on Tuesday afternoon, after police used tear gas to disperse protesters who came to express concern about the allegations and denounce what they saw as a lack of information from by authorities and school officials.
“I denounce the lies, the manipulation of facts, the inciting of hate and the violence that the preachers of hate are publishing on social media,” Bernard Clerfayt said following Tuesday’s events, according to local media.
The protests left the school property damaged and saw the windows of two police scars smashed.
Imagine devoir envoyer ton fils ou ta fille dans ce genre d’école. C’est la réalité quotidienne de plusieurs familles belges qui vivent encore à #Schaerbeek. ?pic.twitter.com/FKYqxIuZos
Last week, reports emerged of a parent addressing municipal authorities after picking up her daughter from school, concerned that she had been sexually abused.
After an initial investigation by the Brussels Prosecutors Office found no evidence to support the allegations of sexual abuse, the girl’s parents are demanding a counter-investigation.
Clerfayt, who had previously declared that there was “no reason” to question the safety of the children in the school, said he is filing the complaint in the name of Schaerbeek, but also in the name of the school and its personnel, who he said was not only “put in danger” during the protests, but who saw the “quality of their professional commitment” questioned.
While the complaint is intended for anyone who made “scandalous” remarks that “aggravated the situation,” it names Yusuf Yildiz, a municipal councillor for Schaerbeek and member of CDH humanist party.
“On social media, he made scandalous remarks that manipulated the facts, invented a different reality and denied respect to our institutions,” Clerfayt said, adding that separation of powers in Belgium meant that justice “should be allowed to do its job independently from politics but also from public pressures.”
Yildiz on Friday posted a video on Facebook in which he is seen speaking of the affair in Turkish. The video has been seen over 150,000 times.