Tom Van Grieken, president of the far-right Vlaams Belang, defended MP Dries Van Langenhove’s trip to Paris to take part in a demonstration against the possible dissolution of the extreme right-wing movement Génération Identitaire.
"Defending freedom of expression is always essential," he said in response to criticism that Van Langenhove’s trip violates the ban on non-essential travel.
Van Grieken told Flemish public broadcaster VRT that Van Langenhove had informed him before leaving.
"I have no problem with that,” Van Grieken said. “Our freedom of expression is under pressure. We are no longer allowed to meet as we want. We are hardly allowed to share anything on social networks. This seems essential to me.”
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The party president denounced the attitude of the media on Twitter. According to him, they barely react when someone crosses the border to go to the hairdresser or to a shop, but they reared up when you cross the border to defend freedom of expression.
"Censorship is on the rise, but the fourth estate is asleep," he tweeted.
Dries Van Langenhove himself claimed on Saturday that his trip to Paris was an essential one. "As a representative of the people, I have a number of tasks to perform," he said.
Van Langenhove was visible on pictures of the demonstration, behind a banner, next to other demonstrators with the logo of his organisation Schild & Vrienden on his chest.
In total, hundreds of people took part in the demonstration according to AFP.
The Brussels Times