Court allows nationalist gathering in Brussels to proceed, organisers say

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The highest court in Brussels has allowed of a gathering of far-right European nationalist politicians to continue for a second day, the conference’s organisers say, after police tried to shut it down on Tuesday.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, French far-right candidate Eric Zemmour, and former Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki were scheduled to speak at the two-day National Conservatism (NatCon) conference in Brussels, which had struggled to find a venue in the Belgian capital willing to host it.

During the first day of the event, Brexit Party founder Nigel Farage was speaking to the audience at the Claridge in the Saint-Josse Ten Noode neighborhood when police intervened with a shutdown order around 12:30 CET on Tuesday.

The German far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) said the decision to authorise the continuation of the NatCon meeting was made overnight at an extraordinary session of the administrative court.

“The Belgian justice system has acted to protect the freedoms of speech and assembly with a decisive emergency late-night ruling in favour of the conference on National Conservativism,” its statement said.

It was not only participants in the conference who took umbrage at the police’s moves. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo wrote on X that there was no excuse for shutting it down.

“What happened at the Claridge today is unacceptable”, he wrote. “Municipal autonomy is a cornerstone of our democracy but can never overrule the Belgian constitution guaranteeing the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly since 1830. Banning political meetings is unconstitutional. Full stop.”

The National Conservatives are an alliance of politicians, public figures and scholars typically associated with the populist right that espouse both conservative and nationalist values, known for their strong Eurosceptic and anti-immigration stance.

Last year, the conference caused alarm in the UK when one speaker, British historian Douglas Murray, complained that the cause of nationalism was unfairly associated with the two world wars – or in his words, “the Germans mucking up twice in the 20th century”.

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