31st May 2023

EU Parliament demands justice after 'anti-vax' attack on MEP

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European Parliament president David Sassoli has demanded justice following an attack against a Belgian MEP purportedly by anti-vaxers.

"Those responsible must be brought to justice," Sassoli said in a tweet on Monday (6 December). "We will never tolerate this kind of hatred. In a democracy, disagreement must be solved with words, not violence," he said.

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His comments follow an attack over the weekend against the family home of Belgian centre-right MEP Pascal Arimont.

Vandals tossed a Molotov cocktail at his house, confirmed by the police. Although it did not set fire to the house, the incident left Arimont badly shaken.

"One metre below the windows where our children sleep. I am speechless and horrified," said Arimont, in a Facebook post.

"I can deal with criticism. I can stand it when someone criticises me or my work. Even in a harsh tone. But what has happened now goes too far. Much too far!," he said.

"I am called 'cowardly'. How cowardly is it to throw an incendiary device on a house where children are sleeping?," he said.

Veiled threats accusing him of "blackmail" and "liar" were also spray-painted onto his garage door, the second time since August.

Arimont is cited in Belgian media as saying the attack had been carried out by those who oppose Covid vaccines.

He has in the past spoken out in favour of the vaccines and the science behind it, most recently in a Facebook post written around a day before the attack.

The backlash against Covid vaccines and other public-health measures was also on display after a peaceful protest turned violent in Brussels on Sunday (5 December).

Some of the protestors were chanting slogans of "Freedom", following fresh restrictions by the Belgian government in a bid to curb a spike in the infection rate.

Those restrictions include requiring children as young as six to wear face masks and limiting indoor events to 200 people.

Belgium's infection average over a seven-day period is 17,823, according to state health authorities . Another 313 are admitted daily to hospital over the same time period on top of 47 daily deaths.

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