Expatica news

“Turks and Kurds are brothers”

5 November 2007

BRUSSELS –  Between three and four thousand people took part in a peaceful protest against terrorism and violence in Brussels’ European District on Saturday afternoon. The protest was organised by a number of Turkish organisations that are active here in Belgium.

The organisers hoped for a peaceful demonstration to help clean up the image of the Turkish community.

The community has received some bad publicity recently after Turkish youths went on the rampage in two separate incidents a couple of weeks ago.

On Sunday 21 October an Armenian bar owner in the Brussels municipality of Sint-Joost-ten-Node saw his business ransacked by a mob of Turkish youths protesting the killing of Turkish soldiers by the Kurdish insurgency group PKK.

Two days later, there was trouble again on the streets of Sint-Joost-ten-Node and neighbouring Schaarbeek after police broke up an illegal demonstration by Turkish youths.

However, Saturday’s protest went off peacefully. Gathering outside European Commission HQ, the protest involved a gathering of several thousand people in the heart of the European District.

The organisers’ intention was to give people the opportunity to show their concern about the situation on the Turkish/Iraqi border and here in Belgium.

In recent weeks, the situation in Turkey has served to raise tensions between Belgian Turks and Kurds and Armenians living in Belgium.

The stage from which various speakers addressed the crowd was adorned will a banner bearing the words “Turks and Kurds are brothers” as well as the Belgian and Turkish flags.

Despite the organisers having provided their own stewards, the police was out in force to prevent any trouble.

Police Commissioner Jan Paternoster told the VRT that he is prepared for every eventuality.

“We have back-up from the Federal Police, who can provide helicopters and water cannons if necessary.”

However, the protest remained peaceful.

[Copyright Flanders news 2007]

Subject: Belgian news