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Extreme right march and counter-protests have no permits

18:50 05/09/2019

The former leader of a neo-Nazi organisation is one of the people behind a march planned in Brussels on 15 September to protest the Vlaams Belang party being left out of Flemish government formation talks. Although the march has no permit, several counter-protests have subsequently been planned on the day.

The extreme-right Vlaams Belang gained the most ground in Flanders in the May elections, becoming the second-biggest party in the region and the third-biggest at the federal level among Flemish voters. A cordon sanitaire has been in force against Vlaams Belang since the early 1990s, with all other parties agreeing to never make it a part of a coalition government at any level.

Bart De Wever, chair of Flanders’ biggest party, N-VA, held talk with Vlaams Belang anyway and eventually announced that it was impossible to find enough common ground to include them in a coalition government. The future Flemish government coalition will be made up of N-VA, Open VLD and CD&V.

Tomas Boutens (pictured) was the founder of the now defunct Bloed, Bodem, Eer en Trouw (Blood, Soil, Honour and Loyalty) and is one of the people behind the march. In 2014, Boutens was found guilty and sentenced to five years on weapons charges – most of it time served. He has been lying low in the interim; this is the first event he has launched since then.

Assassinations

At the time, Flemish broadcaster VTM revealed that anonymous sources in the justice department had confirmed that Boutens was at the time planning the murder of two people. The plan was to kill Vlaams Belang leader Filip Dewinter and Arab European League founder Dyab Abou Jahjah and thereby triggering a culture war. The justice department never officially confirmed the plot.

Vlaams Belang chair Tom Van Grieken said that his party has nothing to do with the march, nor with Boutens. “I distance myself completely from this person, who is simply making things more difficult for the party,” Van Grieken told Bruzz. The leftist parties will be wringing their hands when they see who is behind this action. With friends like Boutens, who needs enemies.”

The counter-protesters, including Stand Up, the anti-fascist front PiratonsBxl and solidarity group Foyer de Luttes, also have no permits to gather, and police said there was little chance that any organisation would get a permit.

Photo: Tomas Boutens pictured during an anti-immigration march in the Netherlands in 2011
©Courtesy Anti-Fascistisch Front

Written by Lisa Bradshaw