35,000 demonstrate for Belgian unity
19 November 2007, BRUSSELS - 35,000 Belgians demonstrated in Brussels against the inability to form a government and against arguments between the linguistic communities.
19 November 2007
BRUSSELS - 35,000 Belgians demonstrated in Brussels against the inability to form a government and against arguments between the linguistic communities.
The initiative came from a civil servant in Liege who started a petition demanding that the politicians focus on the 'real' problems in the country.
140,000 people signed the petition in support of a unified Belgium. The initiative for the petition was taken by Marie-Claire Houard, a civil servant in Liege. The response was so overwhelming that she decided to organise a march through Brussels.
The petition was handed over to the president of the Senate Armand De Decker (Francophone liberal of the MR party) at the end of the demonstration.
Marching to the tune of the Brabançonne, Belgium's national anthem, and many clothed in the Belgian red, yellow and black colours, the demonstrators marched from Brussels North Station to South Station.
15 counter-demonstrators arrested
15 members of an extreme right-wing organisation were arrested. They were detained by police in front of the Royal Palace for holding a counter demonstration which they had apparently not announced beforehand.
Francophone politicians also joined the march
The organisers wanted it to be a march of the people, but some Francophone politicians also joined in.
Elio Di Rupo, chairman of the Francophone socialist party (PS), chair of the Christian democrats (CDH) Joëlle Milquet, former Senate president Anne-Marie Lizin (PS) and current Senate president Armand De Decker were among those present. According to Milquet , the people present wanted to show that they love Belgium and want the politicians to work out solutions that will keep the linguistic communities together. "Flemings and Francophones want to live together in harmony."
The Francophones were in the majority with the Flemish making up about 30% of the total number of demonstrators.
Many well-known Belgians- both Francophone and Flemish - also turned up for the march, including Tony Mary, the former head of the Flemish public broadcaster VRT.
[Copyright Flanders news 2007]
Subject: Belgian news