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    Brussels minister accused of threatening a shopkeeper

    © Belga
    © Belga

    An altercation occurred in an Ixelles neighbourhood between a café owner and a Brussels minister known for his anti-vehicle policies, after the latter was asked to leave the merchant’s terrace, where he was campaigning on Wednesday.

    The owner of Pam Pam Café, located in Ixelles’ hip Chatelaîn neighbourhood, took to Facebook to recount how Brussels Minister of Mobility Pascal Smet had threatened him, after being asked to leave the café’s terrace, where Smet was distributing electoral tracts to the café’s clients.

    “Pascal Smet wanted to distribute his tracts and give his spiel on my establishment’s terrace in Place du Chatelaîn. My daughter politely asked him to leave” café owner Jean-Marie VandeVelde wrote, explaining that he had also asked other politicians to refrain from campaigning in his terrace.

    “Unlike his colleagues and political adversaries, Pascal Smet took it very badly,” he continued.

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    “As I was leading him away from the terrace, he told me that it did not respect the regulations,” the cafe owner later told RTBF.

    While Smet confirmed that he had been asked to leave, he denied threatening the business owner.

    “Yesterday, one merchant (one), told me he was bothered by my presence in his terrace. I replied that I was on public property and that a terrace should always be accessible to pedestrians — It’s the law,” Smet told RTBF.

    The Brussels minister is known for spearheading several urban redevelopment projects to transform some of Brussels’ most heavy-traffic zones into pedestrian areas.

    Smet was campaigning as head of an electoral list, known as one.brussels, which had the day prior promoted a project to completely pedestrianise the square.

    “I felt menaced. Mr Smet became really upset when I asked him to leave my terrace,” VandeVelde told RTBF. “As a minister, I don’t think that he should behave this way,” he added.

    The Brussels’ minister’s anti-car policies have given him a bad name with other businesses in the city, after a separate disagreement with merchants in Brussels’ Sablon neighbourhood, also in Smet’s radar, resulted in them starting a “stop Smet” campaign.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times