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    Police advises against upcoming far-right march in Brussels

    Demonstrators clash with Belgian riot police during a 2018 "March against Marrakech." Credit: JONAS ROOSENS /Belga / AFP

    Brussels police have advised against an upcoming far-right protest organised in the city by a group with links to neo-nazi organisations, with the city’s mayor still expected to give the demonstration the final approval.

    Over a thousand people are expected to attend the event, named Mars op Brussels1 (Dutch for March on Brussels) slated for 15 September, with an additional 3,300 saying on Facebook they were interested in attending.

    “In terms of both pros and cons, the police’s advice is negative,” Ilse Van de Keere, a spokesperson with the Brussels-Ixelles police zone said of the event, according to HLN, explaining that their advice translated into an “intention to refuse” the demonstration taking place.

    Van de Keere said she couldn’t provide more information about the reasons and added that the organisers were “invited to defend themselves” from the police’s advice, according to Bruzz.

    The march was organised by the extremist group Bloed-Bodem-Eer en Trouw (BBET; Blood, Soil, Honour and Loyalty in English), a splinter group of the international neo-nazi group Blood & Honour.

    The group set up the demonstration in protest of the continued exclusion of far-right party Vlaams Belang (VB) from a regional coalition government, under an arrangement agreed-to by other parties to not rule with the far-right.

    In August, when the protest was announced, the far-right party’s chairman Tom Van Grieken distanced himself “entirely” from the demonstration, saying that it amounted to “anti-publicity” for the VB.

    Counter protests

    The police also gave the thumbs-down to counter-protests organised by several anti-fascists groups, according to the outlet.

    Brussels Mayor Philippe Close must now decide whether the march or marches can take place on Sunday. If they are approved, they would coincide with at least two different events planned for the same day, including a balloon parade and a football match.

    A weekend charged with public events, however, has not been sufficient grounds to ban a demonstration in the past.

    A Council of State ruling in 2018 ordered a ban on a far-right “March against Marrakech” to be lifted, saying that “imminent serious disturbances” as a result of the event planned in protest of the U.N.-Marrakech pact on migration did not justify the banning of said event.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times