Last night Brussels police arrested 53 youths, including 19 minors, in the Marollen neigbourhood. The area had seen heavy rioting the previous nights. Some of the arrested immigrants were carrying combustibles. One schack was set alight and one car was torched. The police said there were no serious incidents. Yesterday afternoon Freddy Thielemans, the Mayor of Brussels, told journalists at a press conference that of the 45 youths arrested the previous night 31 were known to the police for a total of 242 crimes. The Mayor emphasized that the riots were the work of youth gangs and cannot be compared to last year’s riots in France since there had been no direct confrontations between the police and the rioters.
Meanwhile, Belgian artists warn that a victory of the “islamophobic” Vlaams Belang [Flemish Interest] party in the local elections on October 8th may lead to violence. In an interview in the Dutch-language weekly Knack Magazine this week painter Luc Tuymans says: “In the worst case you will get organised resistance, perhaps even rather violent reactions. I suspect many shop keepers will have their windows smashed. People do not seem to be aware, but a vote for the Vlaams Belang may have serious consequences. They should realize this before they take a final decision in the voting booth.”
Tuymans is one the artists supporting the free 0110 concerts against the Vlaams Belang. The concerts are subsidized by the Belgian national lottery and are broadcasted on public radio and television. Another artist supporting 0110 is rock singer Arno, who said this week that Brussels is an example for the future of Europe, since it is “one of the only Arab cities which is not in a state of war.”
Last week, self-declared “anti-fascist” activists vandalised a car with Belgian licence plates in Amsterdam. They mistook the vehicle for the car of Vlaams Belang politician Filip Dewinter. The car, however, belonged to a French businesswoman based in Brussels. VB politicians are often the victims of acts of vandalism, including arson attempts. Yesterday the party announced that it has established a fund to reimburse local candidates whose properties gets damaged.