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National Conservatives vow to go ahead with Brussels event

The Eurosceptic National Conservatives have vowed to go ahead with their conference in Brussels, despite having their booking cancelled by the intended venue. The most high-profile speaker from within the EU is scheduled to be the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán but NatCon Brussels is also due to see the return to Brussels of the the former British MEP Nigel Farage, who led first UKIP and then the Brexit Party as he successfully campaigned for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

The Mathias Corvinus Collegium, based in Hungary but also active in neighbouring countries, has had a presence in Brussels since 2022. MCC Brussels describes itself as a ‘proud supporter’ of the event, entitled ‘Preserving the Nation State in Europe’. It has issued the following statement:

Numerous news outlets have asked about our experience and opinions about recent attempts to silence free speech in Brussels, Belgium.

We believe that attempts by anti-democratic zealots to cancel a conservative meeting will fail. Those supporting the meeting vow to never to bend the knee to threats and intimidation. Anti-democratic propagators of cancel culture have been plotting to deny the right of people to gather in Belgium’s capital city because they are intolerant and prejudiced against those who hold different political views. Shamefully, these cowards are aided and abetted by faceless bureaucrats.

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NatCon, one of the most prestigious gatherings of national conservatives, was scheduled to be held in Brussels on 16-17 April. However, the venue, Concert Noble, withdrew its interest in hosting the event in a press statement to the media on Friday evening. It was reported that the venue cited fears about security due to threats from anti-democratic groups and that the Mayor of Brussels had advised the venue to cancel hosting the conference.

Some 500 delegates are due to hear speeches by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, Germany’s Cardinal Gerhard Müller, globally famous former MEP Nigel Farage, and the former UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

As one of the organisations involved in the event, MCC Brussels said that despite the campaign of intimidation, the meeting will proceed as planned. A new venue in the Brussels region will be announced for the event on 16-17 April.

Frank Furedi, Executive Director of MCC Brussels, a think tank involved in the conference said, “What has happened in these last few days represents nothing less than a crisis for free speech and political expression for all of Europe.

“It is an absolute tragedy that cancel culture has been welcomed into Brussels the very heart of the European Union. Everyone, regardless of political affiliation, should be concerned about what is happening here. 

“The battle for free speech is now taking place, and all people of goodwill should be prepared to fight for all our rights to free thought and expression. We must tell the world they tried to cancel us in Brussels, but freedom will prevail”.

MCC Brussels draws attention to concerning development regarding the attempt to use so-called “safety concerns” as a pretext for shutting down events and debate. This “safety playbook” is lifted from intolerant groups in the USA, where threatening venues with violence in order to provide them with a pretext to stop events is more common.

In Brussels, we believe the same playbook was applied, with local “antifa” groups promising to cause trouble, providing the pretext for establishment figures and in particular the mayor of Brussels to pressure the venue to cancel NatCon. With a wink and a nod, safety arguments were raised to suggest there was “no choice” but to cancel the event. 

Despite these efforts, intolerance will not prevail in Brussels. We call on all those committed to free speech and democracy – from all political backgrounds – to stand up to be counted and ensure this event can go ahead. 

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