Earlier, the Brussels mayor, Freddy Thielemans of the Parti Socialiste, had written a letter to Filip Dewinter (not the VB chairman, but certainly the party's most enigmatic personage) that the ceremony would be regarded as a demonstration and that he would not allow it, given, I quote:
"the very delicate theme of the manifestation, the proximity of the [offices of the] Immigration Service, the proximity of sensitive neighborhoods and the period of Ramadan."... "[the manifestation's message] is of a hateful and provocative nature which greatly enhances the possibility of counter demonstrations and violent outbursts."
The Vlaams Belang lodged an appeal against the ban imposed by Thielemans but it was rejected by the Council of State, Belgium’s highest administrative court. Nevertheless, the ceremony went ahead. Also present was a small delegation from the STI initiative (Steden tegen Islamisering, Cities Against Islamization). I borrowed most of the photos below from their site, the composed photo to the left is from the VB site though. Readers will recall that last year, a similar peaceful gathering organized by the VB was savagely beaten up by the Brussels Police. This time, perhaps wary of the negative publicity, the police initially kept its most zealous officers in check.
The man with the beard, walking stiff upright with a rose in his hand, is another VB heavyweight, Gerolf Annemans, VB fraction leader in Belgium's federal parliament. Annemans is known for his fierce pro-Americanism, even more so than Dewinter himself, and he is especially fond of President Bush. At the time of the 2004 elections, when asked by a Belgian daily who he would vote for were he an American, he answered: "I certainly choose for Bush. He has introduced a neoconservative reveil in the States so that the country is now ten years ahead of Europe." Needless to say, Annemans too has been attacked fiercely for this unashamed show of support, and he is a favorite target of extreme leftwing bloggers like Yelloman. Yelloman is, as some attentive readers may recall, one of the main sources providing LGF's Charles Johnson with bogus material claiming the VB is a nazi party.
Filip Dewinter managed to stage a short speech, in which he denounced, in the strongest terms, PS-mayor Thielemans which he called an islamosocialist and a collaborator with radical islam. Some key quotes from Dewinter's address:
"The ban is the most eloquent proof of the islamization of our country", dixit the VB frontman. He added that "9/11 was not simply a terror attack, but also a declaration of war of radical islam to the free West. Islam legitimizes via the Quran the use of violence against infidels to obtain its goals. Islam has to denounce every form of violence and distance itself from Quran passages wich exhort to violence against infidels, otherwise islam can never be tolerated on European territory."
Here are two stills from the 9/11 ceremony in Brussels:
Then, right after Dewinter had laid flowers at the foot of the WTC building, the Brussels Police intervened and stopped the ceremony. Two female VB secretaries and one VB member who still tried to lay their flowers down were arrested and locked up in a cell for the rest of the day (the secretaries later lodged a complaint against the police for sexual harassment). Was NOT arrested: Italian MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Mario Borghezio, of the Italian rightwing party Lega Nord. Last year, during the previous 9/11 commemmoration, Borghezio was roughly handled and arrested, an act so outrageous much that the Italian government officially complained to the Belgian government. I guess this time the officers had received strict instructions not to stir up diplomatic trouble again.
The efforts by the Brussels Police clearly paid off. The only retaliation for daring to commemmorate 9/11 and humiliate muslims in the process, especially during ramadan, came in the evening, when those famous "youths" attacked buses from the public transport company "De Lijn" in Kuregem, an immigrant neighbourhood of Brussels. Spokeswoman for "De Lijn" Karen Vandenplas confirmed that the youths were - gasp! - angry because earlier in the day Flemish politicians had tried to hold a vigil for the victims of the 2001 9/11 attacks in Manhattan, so Mr. Thielemans was indeed right to fear for his constituency. Another bus was attacked in Molenbeek, as readers may recall the Brussels commune where the socialist mayor Philippe Moureaux has forbidden his police officers to eat sandwiches and drink coffee on the street during ramadan. Both in Molenbeek and in Kuregem the passengers on the bus escaped unhurt and the only damage was some bumps in the chassis and windows shattered. So it was not as bad as in March, when a general strike paralyzed the "De Lijn" network because bus drivers were fed up with their buses being shot at and pelted with stones and molotov cocktails, courtesy of the "youths".
But does the banning frenzy of the Brussels mayor now mean the end of free speech in the greater Brussels neighborhood (25% muslims)????? Luckily not, many groups still receive permission to hold demonstrations. Take the following demo e.g. On Sunday, 9 September, some 400 truth activists demonstrated in Brussels to demand an international independent investigation into what really happened on 9 september 2001 in New York. They gathered at the Berlaymont Building (the seat of the European Commission) and headed from there to the American Embassy. Luckily, there were no riots from "youths", I guess that ramadan fasting takes its toll. All demonstrators are equal, but naturally, those from the diversity and equality side are more equal than others. Being the vilain that I am, I simply stole this account from their website. Take especially notice of the last sentence: "Er waren geen incidenten, en de organisatoren waren opnieuw uitgesproken positief over de samenwerking met de Brusselse Politie."
Oooooooh you can't read it??? Oooooooh it's in that pesky peasant's language Flemish??? Let me help you:
"There were no incidents, and the organizers were again explicitly positive about the cooperation with the Brussels Police".
Now isn't life WONDERFUL, after all?