Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election

Smer, Slovakia's ruling party, wants the country's media to give politicians a right-of-reply, or face stiff fines. Advocates of a free press are alarmed, and it poses a problem for the European Commission, whose vice-president is a Smer presidential candidate.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us