Brussels Court Overturns Mayor's Attempt to Cancel National Conservatism Conference

Belgium's highest court overturns attempt to cancel National Conservatism conference, upholding freedom of speech and assembly, setting a precedent against political censorship.

author-image
Rizwan Shah
Updated On
New Update
Brussels Court Overturns Mayor's Attempt to Cancel National Conservatism Conference

Brussels Court Overturns Mayor's Attempt to Cancel National Conservatism Conference

The Brussels district mayor Emir Kir's attempt to shut down a National Conservatism conference scheduled for 2024 has been overturned by Belgium's highest court. The court ruled that the conference, organized by the Edmund Burke Foundation and the Herzl Institute, can proceed as planned despite Kir's order to cancel the event on the grounds that it threatened "public order and peace."

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former head of the Vatican's doctrinal office who was invited to speak at the conference as a theologian, strongly criticized Kir and his supporters for their efforts to cancel the event. Müller compared their actions to those of "absolutist rulers of the past" and even likened them to "Nazi Germany." He stressed that elected officials in democracies are not the "lord and master" of their territories and should not deprive citizens of their liberties or punish them as "dissidents."

Why this matters: The court's decision to allow the National Conservatism conference to proceed is a notable victory for freedom of speech and assembly. It sets an important precedent that elected officials cannot arbitrarily shut down events based on political disagreements or under the guise of maintaining public order.

The conference aims to promote conservatism as "inextricably tied" to the idea of nation, national independence, and the revival of national traditions. Organizers from the Edmund Burke Foundation and the Herzl Institute have expressed their commitment to holding the event and nurturing discussions on these topics.

In his criticism of Mayor Kir's actions, Cardinal Müller emphasized that "elected officials are not the lord and master of their territory, who can deprive citizens of their liberties or punish them as 'dissidents', as absolutist rulers used to do." The cardinal, who was invited to discuss the idea of Christian Europe at the conference, made it clear that such attempts to stifle free speech and assembly have no place in a democratic society.

The court's ruling allowing the National Conservatism conference to proceed as planned in 2024 reaffirms the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and assembly. It sends a clear message that political disagreements cannot be used as grounds to cancel events and silence voices in a democracy. The conference organizers can now move forward with their plans to host discussions on conservatism, nationalism, and the revival of national traditions in Brussels next year.

Key Takeaways

  • Belgian court overturns mayor's attempt to cancel National Conservatism conference.
  • Cardinal Müller criticizes mayor's actions as akin to "absolutist rulers" and "Nazi Germany".
  • Court ruling affirms freedom of speech and assembly, sets precedent against arbitrary event cancellations.
  • Conference aims to promote conservatism tied to nationalism and national traditions.
  • Organizers can now proceed with plans to host the conference in Brussels in 2024.