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Belgian Police Shut Down Far-Right National Conservatives Conference

Police stand guard outside the front entrance of the event venue as the National Conservatism conference takes place in Brussels, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Sylvain Plazy)

Belgian police intervened to shut down a gathering of far-right politicians and supporters in Brussels, citing concerns about public order. The National Conservative conference, an annual event held this year in Brussels, was disrupted on its first day, prompting attendees to protest against restrictions on free speech.

The conference, which attracted a few hundred stridently nationalist and fundamentalist Christian politicians and think-tankers, was seen as a platform for far-right ideologies ahead of the upcoming Europe-wide elections. Mainstream parties expressed apprehension that disenchanted voters might align with the views espoused at the NatCon 2024 event.

British and Belgian leaders voiced concern over the closure of the conference, with British Prime Minister emphasizing the importance of free speech in a democracy. The Belgian Prime Minister also condemned the shutdown, asserting that banning political meetings is unconstitutional.

National Conservative conference attracted nationalist and Christian attendees.
Belgian police intervened to close far-right conference in Brussels.
Mainstream parties concerned about voters aligning with far-right ideologies.
British and Belgian leaders criticized the closure of the conference.
Speakers at the event criticized migration policies and EU.
Event faced challenges in finding a venue due to potential disruptions.
Speakers emphasized preserving nation-states in Europe.
Notable figures like Eric Zemmour and Suella Braverman were prevented from speaking.
Conference aimed to explore National Conservatism in Europe.
Participants vowed to continue advocating for their beliefs despite shutdown.

Belgian police blocked attendees from reentering the venue after they left, effectively shutting down the conference. The event faced challenges in finding a suitable venue, with two previous locations backing out due to the threat of disruption by anti-fascist protesters.

The conference featured speeches that criticized migration policies, climate initiatives, and multinational organizations like the EU. Speakers highlighted the importance of preserving the nation-state in Europe and expressed opposition to the concept of an 'ever-closer Union' among EU member countries.

Notable figures like Eric Zemmour and Suella Braverman were scheduled to speak but were prevented from doing so by police. The conference, organized by the Edmund Burke Foundation, aimed to explore the theme of National Conservatism in Europe.

Despite the shutdown, participants at the conference emphasized the need to continue advocating for their beliefs and resisting attempts to silence them. The event drew parallels between modern liberal democracy and 'neo-Marxist authoritarianism,' with speakers invoking historical and philosophical figures to support their arguments.

As the conference was abruptly halted by authorities, attendees were urged to remain steadfast in their commitment to free speech and democratic principles.

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