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Pro and anti-Marrakesh demonstrators descend on Brussels

Protesters have arrived in Brussels to take part in a demonstration against the UN Migration. Shortly before midday around 1,000 protesters had arrived at Brussels Central Station. They are being escorted by police to the Schuman Square, around 2.5 kilometers to the East where the demonstration will take place.  By 1pm around 5,500 people had gathered at the Schuman Square.     

Meanwhile, a number of left-of-centre groups including the Socialist Trades Union have organized a counter demonstration. Participants assembled outside the socialist civil service trade union’s office in the Congressstraat.  They are aaround 1,000 in number.   

The March Against Marrakesh has been organized by a range of right-wing and far-right organisations, including the youth wing of the far-right Vlaams Belang.  

The First Minister of the Brussels-Capital Region Rudi Vervoort and the Mayor of Brussels Philippe Close (Both Francophone socialist) had banned the demonstration. However they were overruled by the Council of State. It was decided that rather than a march at static demonstration should be held at the Schuman Square in Brussels European District. Some protesters made their way straight to Schuman Square and were not escorted from the station.  Around 5,500 are taking part in the demonstration.

Counter-demonstrators "We don’t want a confrontation with the far-right"

A counter demonstration is also being held. Around 40 organisations, including the youth wings of the socialist and Christian trades unions and the far-left political party PVDA and the Francophone green party Ecolo, are taking part. By noon around 700 people had gathered in the Congresstraat in Brussels.  By 1pm this had grown to around 1,000. 

"The aim of our demonstration is to show that we don’t accept that the far-right come and fills up the streets of Brussels. It is their right to demonstrate against Maarrakesh, but we have issues with the fact that this has been organized by very far-right organisations”, Barend Claessens of the Christian Trade Union’s youth wing told VRT News.