Banning of the National Conservatism Conference in Brussels…

A prominent news story today in both the British and European press has been that of the banning of the National Conservatism Conference by Brussels municipality of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode Mayor Emir Kir stating:

I issued an order from the mayor to ban the National Conservatism Conference event to guarantee public safety. In Etterbeek, Brussels City and Saint-Josse, the far right is not welcome:

Among the speakers due to talk were Nigel Farage, Suella Braverman, Viktor Orban, Eric Zemmour and Mateusz Morawiecki. The event had been cancelled at two previous venues before being hosted by the Orbán-funded Mathias Corvinus Collegium think tank.

The Belgian Prime Minister has condemned the ban.

Now, I don’t know what the reasons past some vague ‘public safety’ issue for banning this was and while the concept of ‘free speech’ is not absolute anywhere on the globe it’s clear that this development obviously has implications for the notion of free speech. My own instinct is that this has played out in exactly the precise way that the organisers hoped it would.

My own preference would have been for the conference to be permitted and for any (peaceful) counter protests to have also been permitted. I suspect that the MCC ‘think tank’ was hoping that Kir would act in precisely the way he did in order to portray Brussels, home of many EU institutions, as authoritative and intolerant of illiberal opinion or anti-EU criticism, that Kir fell perfectly for the MCC victim setting trap.

However, one of the supreme ironies is that the MCC is strongly associated with an administration that forced the closure of the Central European University. And has curbed press freedoms.

It’s also noticeable that one of the key speakers, Suella Braverman, less than six months ago payed her own part in curtailing freedom of expression regarding Palestinian solidarity when in a letter to chief constables in England and Wales, she stated that police should not restrict themselves to potential offences related to the promotion of Hamas, a proscribed organisation and

[….] would urge you to ensure your forces use all available powers to prevent disorder and distress to our communities, and that your officers will act if there are any incidents that stray into criminality

Maybe she could talk a case against Mayor Kir’s administration to the ECHR?

Incidentally, after today’s event, Nigel Farage stated that ‘If anything has convinced me that leaving the European Union ideology was the right thing to do, it is the events of today’

I wonder, does Hungary feel the same?

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