Sunday

26th Feb 2017

Thugs disrupt Brussels memorial service

  • Hooligans spread fear among mourners at the Brussels memorial (Photo: Alice Latta)

Hundreds of thugs, some wearing balaclavas or plastic masks, pushed their way through crowds of mourners in Brussels city centre on Sunday (27 March).

Scuffles broke out as some of them trampled on flowers and candles which had been placed in tribute to those killed and injured in last week's terrorist attacks.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The thugs unfolded a banner which said: "Casuals against terrorism".

The term “casuals” refers to far-right football hooligan groups, such as Casuals United from the UK, whose name comes from wearing designer clothes.

Police had escorted the thugs from the Gare du Nord train station in Brussels to La Bourse, the city’s former stock exchange and the main memorial site, according to Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

Their arrival created tension, but uniformed and plain clothes police initially kept their distance.

When asked by EUobserver why they didn't intervene, one plain clothes officer laughed and said that leftist groups also wore masks.

The locals and other visitors stood their ground on the steps of La Bourse and shouted slogans in defence of immigrants.

"One, two, three generations, we are all children of immigrants!”, they shouted in French.

Three hooded men suddenly charged through the crowd, knocking over a young woman, in an attempt to force people off the steps.

Several other men followed their lead, pushing aside mourners and shouting far-right slogans.

Some appeared to make Nazi salutes while others held up their middle finger in defiance.

Some also threw cans of beer at the crowd. One man set off a loud explosion, possibly a firecracker.

The lack of police action prompted anti-police slogans, with some people shouting in French: "Police, complicit!”.

Belgian riot police deployed at the scene shortly afterward. They encircled the hooligans and pushed them down the main road toward the Gare du Nord station.

They then fired water cannon to disperse the group, to applause from bystanders.

Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur said he was scandalised by the incident and demanded a reaction by the federal government, according to Belgian media.

"I am appalled by what is happening, to learn that such thugs have come to provoke residents at the site of their memorial," he said.

The water cannon trucks had arrived in the Bourse area prior to the hooligans, indicating that police expected trouble, but the mourners had not been warned.

A separate march against terrorism, scheduled for Sunday in Brussels, was cancelled over security fears.

Security failures rock Belgian government

Prime minister Michel rejected the resignation of the interior and justice ministers after revelations that one of Tuesday's suicide bombers was freed last year.

Opinion

Living with terror

If you think it’s hard for adults to cope with the aftermath of the Brussels terrorist attacks, just think how hard it is for children.

Belgian airport to resume flights

Belgium’s national airport plans to resume flights on Thursday, but it will take “months” to get back to full capacity, its CEO says.

Thousands turn out for Belgian anti-terror march

Children chant anti-IS slogans at march in Brussels, as an opposition politician suggests more government ministers will resign over failures before the 22 March attacks.

Analysis

Why Romania erupted in protest

Current anger over corruption laws can be traced back to a night-club fire in 2015, when many died because of lax safety standards. Romanians then realised that corruption can kill.

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  4. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  5. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  6. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  7. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  9. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations