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Nigel Farage X/National Conservatism

BRUSSELS, Belgium (LifeSiteNews) — Police were ordered to shut down the National Conservatism Conference in Brussels under the pretext of guaranteeing “public safety.”

The conference features many prominent guests such as Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, Brexit initiator Nigel Farage, former Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, former French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour and previous UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

Emir Kir, the Socialist mayor of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, the municipality in which the event location is situated, ordered the police to shut down the conference, allegedly to “guarantee public safety.”

“In Etterbeek, Brussels City and Saint-Josse, the far-right is not welcome. The far right is not welcome,” Kir added.

Ironically, Kir, who is the son of Turkish immigrants, was expelled from the Belgian Socialist Party in 2020 for meeting with Turkish politicians of the “far-right” Nationalist Movement Party (NHP) party, who, according to ADF International, support the Erdogan government in Turkey “responsible for cracking down on religious freedom and expelling Christian residents from the country.”

According to Politico, a police officer told one of the organizers that “(t)he authorities decided to shut the event due to possibility of public disorder.”

Anthony Gilland, chief of staff of the conservative think tank MCC and one of the local organizers, told Politico that one of the reasons the police gave for shutting down the event was that counterprotests are scheduled in the afternoon and that the police could not guarantee the safety of the participants.

Paul Coleman, executive director of ADF International who has provided legal counsel to NatCon, shared an English translation of the police order on X. The document, issued by Mayor Kir, also names the “ethically conservative” position espoused by speakers at NatCon, “e.g., hostility to legalized abortion, same-sex unions, etc.” as reasons the conference had to be shut down.

Within the past few days, the organizers already had to change the conference’s location twice, as the two previous venues canceled the event after pressure by local authorities.

On Tuesday afternoon, the event was still taking place inside the Claridge venue, but the police blocked the entrance and prevented anyone from entering. The organizers said that the catering was canceled, and participants only had limited access to water and food as the police were preventing the delivery of supplies.

At around 4 p.m. local time, NatCon announced that Zemmour had been denied entry to the venue by police and that his keynote address would need to be postponed and possibly canceled.

“What just happened in Brussels this afternoon was a disgrace,” Farage wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “For the mayor and police to shut down a peaceful political event makes me more convinced of Brexit than ever.”

Yoram Hazony, the main organizer of the National Conservatism Conference (NatCon) and chairman of the Edmund Burke Foundation, said that on April 12, the Concert Noble, which had hosted NatCon in 2022, canceled the event after “an intervention” of Philippe Close, the Socialist mayor of Brussels.

“Yesterday (Monday) the replacement venue, the Sofitel Brussels owned by the Accor Group, broke its written contract, citing objections from people involved in the European Union Council who would be staying at the hotel,” Hazony continued. “The Mayor of Etterbeek Vincent de Wolf (MR) yesterday boasted to the Brussels Times that he was responsible for the Sofitel cancellation.”

“Brussels has grown fat and wealthy off the presence of EU institutions in this city,” he wrote. “Local politicians will do anything to protect the political establishment that guarantees the gravy train. With less than two months to the heavily contested European Parliamentary elections, the last thing they want is 50 of the most prominent national conservatives in Europe making the case against the leftist-controlled EU.”

Orban, who is scheduled to speak tomorrow at NatCon, reacted to the situation on X, stating, “I guess they couldn’t take free speech any longer.”

“The last time they wanted to silence me with the police was when the Communists set them on me in ’88,” he added. “We didn’t give up then and we will not give up this time either!”

At around 6 p.m. local time, the pro-EU Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo condemned the actions taken by local police. He wrote on X:

What happened at the Claridge today is unacceptable. 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 organizer announced that they would legally challenge the police order issued by the mayor.

“ADF International is supporting an emergency legal challenge against the mayor’s order to shut down the conference, arguing it is contrary to the fundamental rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly — the pillars of truly democratic societies,” Coleman, an attorney and an invited speaker at NatCon, said.

Coleman referred to the crackdown on NatCon by Belgian authorities as a “watershed moment” that showed “the true censorship crisis in Europe is on full public display.”

This story has been updated.