The 9-11 Incident in Brussels

The sixth commemoration of  the terrorist attacks on America did not go quietly in Brussels, Belgium, home of the European Parliament.   Earlier this year, Stop The Islamisation of Europe  (SIOE) applied to the city government of Brussels for a permit to hold a 9-11 memorial demonstration.  The Mayor of Brussels, Freddy Thielemans, reviews all such requests.  He receives between 500 and 600 every year.  In the past six years, he has only turned down six.  SIOE ‘s rejection brought that number up to seven and set off a series of events which led to the 9-11 incident in Brussels.

First some background.  The SIOE movement began in Denmark (SIAD – Stop Islamificering Af Danmark).  There are now branches in England, France, and Belgium, with others expected to open soon in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Russia.  SIOE’s   website declares that it was formed to prevent Islam from becoming a dominant political force in Europe.  SIOE’s slogan is: “Racism is the lowest form of stupidity. Islamophobia is the height of common sense.”  It also has a battle cry: “Enough is Enough. No Sharia Here!  Democracy not Theocracy!”

SIOE’s position is that all religions should be treated equally by the law, but because Islam is a combined political, legal, and judicial system — administered and overseen by un-elected theologians — it is completely contrary to Western concepts of democracy.  Islam seeks to be treated differently or in a superior manner.  Therefore, Islam and democracy are incompatible. 

That’s as may be, but the Muslim community in Brussels seems to have no trouble at all participating in the electoral process.   The Belgian political party to which Mayor Freddy Thielemans belongs is the Parti Socialiste (PS).   It is the largest party in Brussels. It holds 17 of the 47 seats in the city council.  10 of those 17 PS councilors are Muslims. The PS governs Brussels in a coalition with the Christian Democrats who have 11 councilors, of whom 2 are Muslims and 3 are immigrants from sub Saharan Africa. Only 13 of the 27 councilors within the governing coalition are native Belgians. Over half of the inhabitants of the Brussels region are of foreign origin, many of them from Morocco.

In denying SIOE’s application to stage a 9-11 memorial gathering, Mayor Thielemans said that he felt the “ethnic” community in Brussels would not tolerate a demonstration which denounced the process by which Europe would morph into Eurabia.  He said he was afraid SIOE’s presence would spark rioting.  In response, SOIE posted an Open Letter of Protest to the Mayor on its website on 15 August. It also created an online petition for others to voice their support.  10,000 signatures were gathered.

Anyone familiar with Mayor Freddy Thielemans would have expected SIOE’s petition to fall on deaf ears.  Mayor Freddy makes no secret of the fact that he is an atheist with a soft spot for Muslims and a hatred of Christians.  On the day that Pope John Paul II died, the news came to Freddy at a cocktail party which included the Mayor of Angouleme, France. He ordered “Champagne for Everyone.”  A French colleague at the party walked out in disgust.  Seems the fellow was Catholic.

Local wags quipped that Freddy (who coincidently celebrated his 63rd birthday on 9-11) was afraid Pope Benedict would die on that very day and he’d have to offer to buy champagne again for everyone. That would be easy if the town square was filled with non-drinking Muslims, but since SIOE was predicting the arrival of 20,000 protestors, old Freddy could have gone bankrupt filling their glasses.

SIOE  appealed the denial for their demonstration to several courts, all of which upheld the ban.  The leaders of the SIOE  then decided their only choice was to march, as an act of civil disobedience, to illustrate how the EU can selectively choose to curb the freedom of expression.  News about the event was posted on blogs all over Europe. Worried about that 20,000 figure, Belgian authorities and Mayor Freddy’s office again asked SIOE to cancel their plans. They confided that suicide bombers intended to infiltrate their ranks and cause terrible carnage.  SIOE was not deterred.  Still, when 9-11-07 finally arrived only a few hundred people had assembled for the demonstration.

SIOE’s website had listed specific instructions for all participants. They were to assemble in Luxembourg Place.  National flags could be carried to indicate European unity for the organization’s goals, but no special interest flags or signs, to advance other causes, could be displayed.  This point became the spanner in the works.

Vlaams Belang, a group which seeks Flemish independence from Belgium, had offered to join the protest.  In return, SIOE promised to support Vlaams Belang in the future. Alas, Vlaams Belang did not keep its word.  They brought lots of flags and signs in support of their own independence movement.  More egregiously, determined to seize the media spotlight, the Belangers had secretly decided to stage a separate protest for their cause in nearby Schumann Square. 

That’s when the trouble began.  About 100 local policemen had been dispatched to keep things under control, amply armed with riot gear and a water cannon.  There is film on YouTube which shows the clash between the police and the Vlaams Belangers.   What triggered the clash  is not clear, but the footage shows that aggressive police tactics were used in removing the VB protestors from the Square.  When the clip was broadcast on TV,  file  photos of the two main SIOE organizers were meshed with moving images of the Vlaams Belangers being carted away in police buses.  SIOE was not amused.

When the dust settled, it was, in fact, the two leaders of the VB Flemish independence group who had been arrested. One is an MEP (Member of the EU Parliament) and the other a VP in the Flemish Parliament.  About 120 others were arrested and held for seven hours.  Included in that number were also a French MEP and an Italian MEP.  Arresting MEP’s   is a violation of the protocols regarding diplomatic immunity.  Italy has already filed a formal complaint.  The Italian MEP, Mario Borghezio, told the press:  “It doesn’t seem normal to me that on the 11th of September, in a European capital, a demonstration… against fundamentalist Islamic terrorism can be banned.”  For the record, a small number of SIOE demonstrators were eventually allowed to observe a minute of silence outside the EU Parliament building.

The end of the day’s events beggars belief.  Those who had not been arrested gathered in a cluster of outdoor cafes to discuss what had happened.  At some point Mayor Freddy turned up with a small entourage and sat among the SIOE people.  A conversation was opened.  Although one or two folks suggested he might be a bit of a fascist, Freddy tossed that off and cheerfully offered to   pose with anyone who wanted a souvenir photograph taken with him.  “We all started to laugh at the absurdity,” one SIOE member commented. 

SIOE has now disassociated itself from Vlaams Belang and its political agenda. In its official statement, SIOE took no prisoners:  “The only way Islamism will be defeated is by fighting it single-mindedly, but you have to have a brain to have a mind, and it’s pretty obvious some leaders of some political parties are brainless.”

There was scant coverage of this incident in the mainstream European print media, but the websites and blogs of SIOE, its affiliates, and supporters, are now in hyper drive.  The debate centers on whether SIOE’s denial to peacefully assemble proves their main point.  The Mayor of Brussels did not want his Muslim constituency to be offended, ergo the Islamification of Europe is well underway. 

SIOE’s next big event will be held on October 12.  On that day, Muslims who wish to leave the faith (an act punishable by death) are being encouraged to find safety in numbers and become apostates. When asked if SIOE was a right-wing organization, its press spokesperson, Anders Gravers, replied:  “Tell me, is it right-wing or left-wing to be against stoning?”