Clashes opposed, on Sunday January 23 in Brussels, the police and opponents of health restrictions to fight against Covid-19, during a demonstration which brought together tens of thousands of people.
According to the authorities, around 50,000 people marched in the Belgian capital, some from other European countries. This is the biggest protest in the city in recent months. The clashes erupted near the headquarters of the European Union.
Police used water cannons and tear gas to repel protesters who were throwing cobblestones and firecrackers. A little later, police officers, bombarded with metal barriers, took refuge in a metro station.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has condemned the “senseless destruction and violence” after masked attackers smashed a glass door at the EU’s foreign affairs headquarters.
70 people arrested
According to the police, around 70 people were arrested, including a dozen for offenses such as throwing projectiles and damaging property. Three officers and 12 protesters were hospitalized, but none whose life would be in danger.
“Freedom of expression is one of the foundations of our society. Everyone is free to express their opinion,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in a statement. “But our society will never accept indiscriminate violence, let alone towards our police forces. Those involved this Sunday will be prosecuted,” he added, while the mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, deplored in a tweet a “difficult day” and “the physical attacks of which the police were the victim”.
Difficult day today in Brussels. Nothing can justify the physical attacks of which the police have been victims. In consultation with the king’s prosecutor, we will do everything to identify the perpetrators. (1/2)
— Philippe Close (@PhilippeClose) January 23, 2022