'For Europe - Against Eurabia' - demo in Brussels

A demonstration against the growing influence of Islam in Europe, which is planned for 11 September in Brussels, is now being dealt with by the Belgian High Court. After the mayor of Brussels had banned the demonstration earlier this month, the German organisation Pax Europa filed suit in order to get the ban lifted. A decision is expected this week. Kirsten Heppner has more.

1) Autorin:
“For Europe – Against Eurabia”. This is the motto of the civil rights movement Pax Europa, one of the organisers of the demonstration. According to its founder, the German journalist Udo Ulfkotte, who is a long-time critic of many Arab governments in the Middle East, Pax Europa and its fellow organisations stand for democracy and the preservation of European values. The protest in Brussels is supposed to be a sign:

2) OT 1 (Ulfkotte)
We say: Enough is enough! We want to keep our European values, we want to keep our democracy. […] 20,000 participants had registered for the demonstration. Now we can’t tell you anymore, because it spread all over the world: There is a free demonstration of free citizens for democracy and for European values and rights that has been forbidden.

3) Autorin:
The reason why the mayor of Brussels, Freddy Thielemans, has banned the demonstration is not merely the fear that the large Muslim population of Brussels might be offended. The authorities see a risk of escalation as extremists had clearly intended to join the protest, Thielemans says.

4) OT 2 (Thielemans)
I don’t believe that all the organisations behind the idea of this demonstration are extreme organisations or very right wing organisations, but they’re quite clearly very conservative, which is not a shame in itself. The main things is of course that we have come across e-mails sent in by extreme right organisations calling their militants to join in. And it’s quite clear that if they come along[…] they might be tempted to do a bit more than just demonstrate.

5) Autorin:
Furthermore, there were bound to be counter demonstrations, which would add to the risk, Thielemans explains. Now it is for the High Court to decide. But whatever the ruling, Udo Ulfkotte is determined to go through with the plans:

6) OT 3 (Ulfkotte)
We will have a meeting in Brussels anyhow, even if the demonstration is forbidden. 20,000 people have already booked their flight tickets, we have rented buses and so on. So, even if a demonstration would be banned, we would come as tourists or we would celebrate the birthday of Mayor Freddy Thielemans, who has forbidden the demonstration, because exactly on September 11 he has his 63rd birthday. […] So maybe, if it’s not a demonstration, it’ll be a huge birthday party.

7) Autorin:
A party which mayor Thielemans intends to be well prepared for. Kirsten Heppner, Deutsche Welle Radio, Brussels.

(Deutsche Welle
27. August 2007)