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    Far-right ‘March on Brussels’ halted by Brussels mayor

    Demonstrators during a 2018 "March against Marrakech," also banned by authorities. Credit: © Belga

    A protest organised by a far-right Flemish nationalist group cannot go forward, Brussels Mayor Philippe Close announced just days ahead of the march originally scheduled for Sunday.

    Close’s announcement comes after police advised against the Mars op Brussel (March On Brussels in Dutch), organised by Bloed-Bodem-Eer en Trouw, a Flemish nationalist splinter group of the international neo-nazi group Blood & Honour.

    The event’s now-deleted original Facebook page saw thousands sign up or express their interest in the march, organised to protest the cordon-sanitaire, an inter-party agreement to not rule with far-right party Vlaams Belang (VB), which surged in May’s elections.

    Despite the mayor’s ban, hundreds have renewed their interest in the march in a new event page created after the original one was removed.

    “The march is going to take place!” a post on the page reads, encouraging users to share the event and to follow it for “further instructions and information.” Another post tells readers to not let the media fool or scare them.

    The demonstration will initially gather in Place d’Espagne, near the Gare Centrale, with a separate group expected to gather at the foot of the Congress Column at Place du Congrès, according to Bruzz.

    At the start of the week, the police said it could not give details about the reasons behind their decision to advise against the demonstration. On Friday, the mayor’s cabinet cited security concerns as the main reason behind its decision.

    “I can only say that it is for safety reasons,” Close’s spokesperson Maïté Van Rampelbergh told De Morgen.

    Counter demonstrations organised by several left-wing and anti-fascist groups were also banned, in accordance with police recommendations, according to reports.

    In 2018, a right-wing demonstration against a U.N. pact on migration called “March against Morocco” was also banned by the Brussels mayor, but Belgium’s Council of State overruled the ban and allowed the march, which saw protesters clash violently with police, to go forward.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times