Protests hit Ghent festival
19 July 2004 , BRUSSELS - The opening of the annual Ghent festival has been interrupted by a protest against the electoral success of the extreme right-wing Vlaams Blok party.
19 July 2004
BRUSSELS - The opening of the annual Ghent festival has been interrupted by a protest against the electoral success of the extreme right-wing Vlaams Blok party.
The protest, organised mainly by the anti-globalisation movement Attac, was timed to coincide with the festival's opening procession on Sunday.
The Ghent Festival is one of the high points of the cultural calander in Flanders.
This year's so-called “Rebel Parade” marked the third year running that demonstrations have run counter to the town's summer festivities.
According to tradition, the alternative parade refuses to follow the agreed route of the official procession in an effort to promote its message that “the street is for everybody.”
But this year the protestors chose to limit their procession to just one participant: Flemish actor Johan Heldenbergh.
Heldenbergh played the role of John Massis, a “strongman” who rose to fame in Flanders and beyond by performing feats such as pulling train wagons with his jaw.
The actor used the occasion to launch his own tirade against the Vlaams Blok and the 'Establishment'.
The June regional elections in Belgium saw Vlaams Blok and traditional right-wing parties win a clear victory in Flanders.
Despite having been ruled illegally racist by a Belgian court, Vlaams Blok rose to second position in Flanders, gaining 32 seats in the regional parliament.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news