Anti-Semitic Rally in Brussels Broken Up by Police With Water Cannon

Some 500 far-rightists gather in a rally in which French comic Dieudonne was slated to appear; participants perform his notorious, Nazi-style quenelle salute.

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Belgian parliamentarian Laurent Louis (C) and other far-right demonstrators perform quenelle salute before rally in Brussels, May 4, 2014.
Belgian parliamentarian Laurent Louis (C) and other far-right demonstrators perform quenelle salute before rally in Brussels, May 4, 2014. Credit: AFP
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Haaretz

Belgian riot police used water cannon Sunday afternoon to break up a demonstration of some 500 extreme-right, anti-Semitic activists that had been banned by local authorities, AFP and Arutz Sheva reported.

The gathering, billed by organizers as the "First European Congress of Dissent," was to include the French anti-Semitic comic Dieudonne, but there were no reports of his presence in the crowd. Many attendees performed the notorious quenelle, a coyly truncated Nazi salute that Dieudonne originated.

As police broke up the rally in the Brussels district of Anderlecht, Belgian far-right parliamentarian Laurent Louis, founder of the Belgians, Rise Up! group, told the crowd, "It's over. Everyone should disperse calmly. They're coming down on us. I don't want any injured."

No one was arrested.

Anderlecht Mayor Eric Tomas said he banned the rally for the sake of public order after protesters vowed to make their presence felt at the scene. But the organizers – Belgians Rise Up! and a Brussels bookstore – told supporters to defy the ban and show up at the venue, whose exact location was kept secret until not long before the rally began.

"There are people coming from Switzerland, France, Strasbourg, from all over," Louis told Belgian TV early in the day. "I will be there to welcome them and if they want to arrest us, then arrest us."

Earlier, the Belgian League against anti-Semitism filed a legal complaint to block what it called "a day of hate that would serve as a platform for the worst gathering of anti-Semite authors, theorists and propagandists that our country has seen since the end of World War II."

Police use water cannon to disperse demonstrators. Credit: AFP

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