18,000 march to protest against racism
26 May 2006 , BRUSSELS — An estimated 18,000 people took part in a silent march against violence and racism in Antwerp on Friday.
26 May 2006
BRUSSELS — An estimated 18,000 people took part in a silent march against violence and racism in Antwerp on Friday.
The march started shortly before 3pm on the Brouwersvliet and ended at about 4.30pm on the Bolivarplaats in front of the new Antwerp Court building.
Family members of the victims, dressed completely in white, led the march and addressed the crowd from the Bolivarplaats.
The march had trouble starting in the beginning, as hundreds of people who arrived by buses and trams were dropped off in front of the march rather than behind it, leading to delays.
Throughout the march, children with different skin colours carried signs saying 'The sadness of A' and 'Stop racism, diversity is reality'.
To allow the immigrant community to participate, the march started after the end of traditional Friday prayers.
The march was intended as a protest against racism and senseless violence in response to the Antwerp shootings on 11 May.
In that attack, Malian nanny N'doye Olemaou and two-year-old Flemish girl Luna were shot and killed, while Turkish woman Songul Koç is still recovering in intensive care.
But the march was also intended to honour Moroccan Mohamed Bouazza, 23, who downed in the Schelde River on the night of 30 April allegedly after a racist attack.
During her speech on the Bolivarplaats, Bouazza's mother was highly critical of the extreme-right Vlaams Belang party.
More specifically, she said leader Filip Dewinter is responsible for what happened and urged people against voting for the party.
The march passed off without incident as a couple of hundred native Belgian and immigrant volunteers in orange vests helped maintain public order.
Police encountered few problems and carried out a "limited number" of preventative arrests, spokesman Sven Lommaert said.
The headquarters of the Vlaams Belang was guarded throughout the march by police officers and a water cannon vehicle, but few problems were also reported there.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news