Belgian mayor bans far-right rally in flashpoint quarter
BRUSSELS (AP) — A Belgian mayor on Thursday banned Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders and Belgian anti-immigrant politician Filip Dewinter from holding a rally in Molenbeek, a Muslim-majority Brussels neighborhood that has been linked to extremism.
Mayor Francoise Schepmans said the two men had described their planned visit on Friday to Molenbeek as an “Islam Safari” in the “Jihadi capital of Europe.”
She said the rally, planned for just after Friday’s Muslim prayers, cannot take place “to avoid any predictable threat to order and public peace.”
Some of the extremists linked to the Paris massacres in November 2015 and the suicide bomb attacks on the Brussels airport and metro in March 2016 lived in or transited through Molenbeek. Belgian police and the army have remained on high alert for almost two years.
Sam Van Rooy, a spokesman for Dewinter from the Belgian Flemish-nationalist Vlaams Belang party, said Wilders and Dewinter still aim to head to Molenbeek on Friday.
“The fact that two elected politicians cannot enter an area for security reasons, that they are afraid of violence; that is Islamization,” Van Rooy said.
He added: “We do not plan to use violence, of course.”