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Diverging interpretations on the short-lived Brussels ban

April 19th, 2024

Commentators agree in condemning the attempt by a Brussels district mayor to ban the National Conservatism conference but not on the context.

In Népszava, Mária Gál describes the attempt to shut down the right-wing sovereignist meeting where Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán was among the speakers as the action of ‘an overzealous district mayor.’ (For the antecedents, see BudaPost, April 18). She condemns the Hungarian ‘propaganda machinery’ which immediately started lambasting ‘Brussels’, although the mayor’s order was immediately condemned by the Belgian Prime Minister as a violation of free speech and scrapped by the court within a few hours. Meanwhile, she finds it highly controversial that the organisers of CPAC-Hungary, the next international sovereignist gathering in Budapest, declared Budapest a ‘woke-free zone’ and will only admit correspondents of their choice to attend the event.

Mandiner quotes a Facebook post by liberal international law professor Tamás Lattmann who said the ban was emitted by a ‘local dummy’, rather than by ‘Brussels’ as Hungarian pro-government propagandists suggest. Reacting to that post on his own Facebook page, Demokrata’s Gábor Bencsik remarks that the district mayor was far from a ‘lonely dummy’, as the managers of two conference halls where the meeting was previously scheduled to take place cancelled their bookings under pressure by a district mayor and the Socialist Mayor of Brussels. Are all of them just ‘local dummies’? Bencsik asks.

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