Rioting as Le Pen gives reading in Ghent
1 December 2005, BRUSSELS — The visit to Ghent of French extreme-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen sparked riots on Wednesday night.
1 December 2005
BRUSSELS — The visit to Ghent of French extreme-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen sparked riots on Wednesday night.
About 30 left-wing protestors occupied a crossroads in Ghent city centre where the public who wanted to listen to Le Pen's talk had to pass by.
Police eventually intervened and used force — including the use of police batons — to remove the protestors from the road junction, located between Volderstraat and Mageleinstraat
The reading from Le Pen — the leader of the French extreme-right party Front National — was initially planned to take place in the auditorium of Ghent University. However, that did not proceed as planned.
The Ghent City Council had also made available the Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall) for the reading, which was organised by the student movement KVHV. However, these plans were also revised.
Liberal VLD Alderman Sas van Rouveroij said the risk that damage might be inflicted on historic monuments and buildings was considered too great.
The city council then offered the council's public service centre in the city district Gentbrugge for the reading, newspaper 'De Tijd' reported.
"We don’t want censorship. Some have the right to meet; others have the right to protest. However, we don't want to run the risk … [of damage]. In Gentbrugge, it is also easier for the police to keep both groups apart," Van Rouveroij said.
However, no protestors gathered around the service centre in Gentbrugge. And the vicinity was also cordoned off by a distinct police presence.
In front of an audience of more than 200 Flemish people and encircled by the yellow Flemish Lion flags, Le Pen was then able to give his reading — in French.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news