National Conservatism Conference: Police told to shut down right-wing Brussels event


According to BBC reports: Brussels police have been ordered to shut down a conference attended by right-wing politicians across Europe, including Nigel Farage and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Organisers say the National Conservatism Conference in the Belgian capital is continuing, but guests are no longer allowed to enter.

Local authorities had raised concerns over public safety.

A UK spokeswoman called reports of police action “extremely disturbing”.

She said that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was a “strong supporter and advocator for free speech” and that he was “very clear that cancelling events or preventing attendance and no-platforming speakers is damaging to free speech and to democracy as a result”.

Nigel Farage, who took to the stage this morning, told the BBC the decision to close down the conference because there were homophobes in the audience was “cobblers”, and that he condemned the decision as an attempt to stifle free speech.

“Thank God For Brexit”, he said.

Organised by a think-tank called the Edmund Burke Foundation, the National Conservatism Conference is a global movement which espouses what it describes as traditional values, which it claims are being “undermined and overthrown”. It also opposes further European integration.

The conference said it aimed to bring together “public figures, journalists, scholars and students” who understood the connection between conservatism and the idea of nationhood and national traditions.

But in a message to organisers, the area’s local mayor Emir Kir said some of the attendees of Tuesday’s conference hold anti-gay and anti-abortion views. “Among these personalities there are several particularly from the right-conservative, religious right and European extreme right,” his statement said.

Mr Kir wrote on X: “The far right is not welcome.”

French far-right politician Eric Zemmour, arriving for the conference after police had blocked the entrance, told journalists that Mr Kir was “using the police as a private militia to prevent… Europeans from taking part freely”.

Organisers said Mr Zemmour was not allowed into the venue and that his address would be postponed.

Former UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman and far-right French politician Eric Zemmour were listed as keynote speakers.

The National Conservatism Conference reportedly started around 08:00 (06:00 GMT) on Tuesday and carried on for three hours until police showed up and asked the organisers to make attendees leave.

Later, organisers wrote on X: “The police are not letting anyone in. People can leave, but they cannot return. Delegates have limited access to food and water, which are being prevented from delivery. Is this what city mayor Emir Kir is aiming for?”

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the former Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki were due to speak tomorrow.

Earlier, the organisers said on X that they would challenge the order to shut the conference down.

“The police entered the venue on our invitation, saw the proceedings and the press corps, and quickly withdrew. Is it possible they witnessed how peaceful the event is?,” they wrote on X.

The Claridge event space – located near Brussels’s European Quarter – can host up to 850 people. Around 250 people were in attendance on Tuesday afternoon.

Mohamed Nemri, the owner of Claridge, told the BBC he had decided to host the event because “we don’t reject any party…. even if we don’t have the same opinion. That’s normal”.

“I am Muslim and people have different opinion and that’s it. We are living in a freedom country. I’d like to people to talk freely,” he added.

It is the third venue that was supposed to hold the event, after the previous two fell through. Belgian media reported that one venue pulled out after pressure by a group called the “Antifascist coordination of Belgium”