Saturday

10th Dec 2016

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.

News in Brief

  1. Council of Europe critical of Turkey emergency laws
  2. Italian opposition presses for anti-euro referendum
  3. Danish MP wants warning shots fired to deter migrants
  4. Defected Turkish officers to remain in Greece
  5. Most child asylum seekers are adults, says Denmark
  6. No school for children of 'illegal' migrants, says Le Pen
  7. Ombudsman slams EU Commission on tobacco lobbying
  8. McDonald's moves fiscal HQ to UK following tax probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Use Bioenergy Coming From Forests in a Sustainable Way?
  2. Counter BalanceReport Reveals Corrupt but Legal Practices in Development Finance
  3. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  4. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  5. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  6. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  7. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  9. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  10. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  11. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  12. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First