Brussels Sept 11 Protest
Good Summary of links here.
UPDATE 2:Seems that over 150 people were arrested. Honestly, it didn't seem like that many to me, but I think some of the arrests took place outside the square or perhaps before I got there.
Ah, as I thought there was action going on somewhere else - Shuman Square, where more arrests took place.
The main demo at Place de Luxembourg was largely peaceful. But a support demonstration at Schuman was the one with heavy arrests etc.
I found a very "Soviet" quote from an EU official:
"It is very important to remember that the freedom of assembly and expression can be restricted to protect the rights and freedoms of others, including the freedom of thought, conscience and religion," secretary general Terry Davis said.
So someone wouldn't be able to think because of the protest? It would bother their conscience? What is he talking about?
There is also great comment here from an Italian official on the arrest of one of their MEPs:
It doesn't seem normal to me that on the 11th of September, in a European capital, a demonstration involving European parliamentarians, against fundamentalist Islamic terrorism, can be banned."
No, it does not seem normal, does it.
UPDATE: Seems like some of the "locals" I discuss below were members of the European Parliament! There is a more informative blurb and some video here.
I knew about the banned anti-Islam protest at Luxembourg Place (Brussels) so I stopped by. I did not join the protest as it was illegal to do so and you were arrested right away for participating. However, I was able to take pictures.
The police presence was incredible. I can't emphasize this enough. I started seeing police presence as soon as I left the hotel and it kept increasing as I got closer to the site of the protest.
The police were at various street corners and in front of the train station. The presence was heaviest in Luxembourg Place itself as well as the surrounding streets. They numbered at least 250 officers, 25 trucks and many motorcycles. I had initially thought of joining the protest, but realized it would be futile.
The police were in greatest force around Luxembourg Place. If anyone started chanting or held up a sign they were arrested IMMEDIATELY and with OVERWHELMING force. At first, the hard core protesters were arrested. These were the people dressed in dark colors, English speaking, and typically had shaved heads. In general they were under 30 years old.
After the initial round of arrests, some older, more conventionally dressed French speaking people (locals?) starting chanting things I could not understand (except for Democracy!). They too were arrested. One couple wore "sandwich board" signs which I was not able to read.
Additionally, there was one person who went directly into the square and held up a cross. The press surrounded him, took pictures and interviewed him. The police did nothing for a half an hour or more. It was a powerful gesture and something that should be duplicated in the future.
I would say one or two dozen people were arrested. There were many bystanders, some of which looked sympathetic to the cause but unwilling to get arrested (like myself). Other bystanders were just observing and others were hostile.
There was a HUGE press presence - at least 100 media people including reporters and photographers. If getting press coverage was the goal of this event then it was a success.
The media was desperately looking for a story and crowding around every arrest. They were also doing many interviews with the crowd.
My impression was that the press was generally looking to find a "neo-Nazi" story line, but they were also a willing to hear why people were concerned about Islam.
The organizers could have been more sophisticated, or at least better prepared to make their message heard. Yes, they got the press to come to the event, but they did not use the opportunity as effectively as possible.
In my opinion, the protesters needed to have signs with short, clear messages that could by photographed quickly by the press and put out for all to see. Whatever the bias of the press, they are desperate for a story - any story - and they would have taken photos of signs or any other images that would create interest.
The protesters should have a) shown sign, b) had picture taken and c) get arrested. Of course, that is easier said than done.
Here are the photos (click on photo to enlarge):
Riot truck with fire hoses prepped for action.
Early view of the Plaza.
Arrest of a protester who tried to escape.
These are the "locals" arrested and put up against the wall.
Just a portion of the police force at Luxembourg Place.
And here is a portion of the riot vehicles present.
Protester with cross who was not arrested right away (click to enlarge).
Arrest of female protester.
Protester with flag.
Police were armed.
The press was crazy.
Young kids before arrest.
Finally, something more pleasant.