The Antwerp Mayor, Bart De Wever (New Flemish Alliance), has decreed a prohibition on gathering for rallies. This will apply for at least a week in the Brederodewijk district of Antwerp. He says “this is to restore order and guarantee the security of the inhabitants of Antwerp.” The weekend was characterised by outbreaks of violence around the Rue de Brederode between Turkish and Kurdish communities in the city. Three people were injured and thirteen people placed under administrative arrest.
A communiqué released on behalf of the Mayor of Antwerp stated, “I strongly condemn the way in which a foreign conflict has been imported to Belgium, along with the ease with which troublemakers believe that they can use violence against people and property.”
He went on, “They will not succeed and we will continue to take firm action as this behaviour goes against freedom of expression. It is the latter which we enjoy within our urban society. This freedom demands the respect for each other. Indeed this is the case independently of all personal convictions.
Given that the violence does not emanate from a “marginal minority”, the Mayor is planning to speak as soon as possible with Turkish and Kurdish Antwerp communities. He said, “I will assess with them how best to put an end to these tensions.”
Moreover, the Mayor thanked the local police for their efforts. The spokesman for the Antwerp police confirmed that special decentralised units of the federal police were also deployed on Sunday evening, on account of the developments in the city.
The authorities were confronted by around one hundred people, some of whom brandished batons and iron rods in the area around Rue de Brederode. Incendiary bombs were launched and an individual may possibly have been seen armed with a heavy weapon. The tensions during the evening injured three people. Moreover, thirteen individuals were subject to administrative arrest. This was indicated by the police shortly after midnight.
This same district had already been the target for violence when a bus from the campaign “Free Ocalan” (the surname of the Kurdish leader imprisoned by the Turkish courts) had ended – accidentally – in the Rue de Brederode. Numerous Turkish immigrants live there.
The confrontation had led to an outbreak of violence. The police had proceeded with the administrative arrest of around forty troublemakers. An individual had, at that time, been legally arrested for carrying an illegal weapon. There were eight people injured, including one policeman attacked, when one such individual threw a stone.
The Brussels Times