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Mayor in Brussels Tries to Shut Down Conservative Conference

A mayor in Brussels on Tuesday sent police officers to break up a gathering of prominent, self-described “anti-woke” conservatives from across Europe, including Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, declaring “the far-right is not welcome” before the authorities quickly retreated.

Emir Kir, the Socialist Party mayor of the central Brussels neighborhood where the gathering took place, issued the order to close the National Conservatism Conference on grounds of “public safety.” But critics said that Mr. Kir’s order only amplified one of the gathering’s main themes: that cancel culture targeting conservative voices has run amok.

“This is what we are up against. We are up against an evil ideology. We are up against a new form of communism,” declared Nigel Farage of Britain. Mr. Farage, a former member of the European Parliament and a champion of national sovereignty, who helped drive his country’s exit from the European Union, was getting ready to speak when the authorities arrived. “This is like the old Soviet Union. No alternative view allowed,” he said.

Nigel Farage speaking at the conference on Tuesday.Credit…Simon Wohlfahrt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A small group of Belgian police officers entered the conference venue but then quickly withdrew after telling organizers that their event had been prohibited, leaving conservative participants to gleefully denounce left-wing intolerance.

The police intervention drew a sharp rebuke from the Belgian prime minister, Alexander De Croo, a center-right opponent of the Socialist Party. In a post on social media, he said that Belgium’s constitution guaranteed freedom of speech and that “banning political meetings is unconstitutional. Full stop.” What happened at the conference venue, he added, “is unacceptable.”

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