Political Violence

30 mei 2024 | Brent Hadderingh

On Thursday 26 October 2023, everyone was shocked to see a video of FVD party leader Thierry Baudet being assaulted as he was about to give a speech in Ghent, Belgium. A 33-year-old Ukrainian man was arrested.  Politicians and public figures in the Netherlands and Belgium fell over themselves to express their sympathies and condemn the attack.

Fast forward to more than half a year later and we find out what actually happened to the perpetrator. The Ukrainian has been let off with a warning. Yes, you read that correctly. He did not receive a sentence. He did not have to appear in court. He was not even charged with any crime. No, instead, he received a warning and must meet some conditions to definitively avoid prosecution. In short, ‘Don’t do it again.’

At around the same time in the Netherlands, a man was charged for protesting in front of the house of a Dutch minister with a burning torch, and sentenced to six months in prison. Currently, two FVD parliamentarians are being charged by the Dutch public prosecutor - one for supposed sedition, and the other for insulting a minister. In our eyes, this is clearly political persecution for voicing dissent.

That this persecution is happening just as  an actual physical assault is not even being prosecuted just adds a further layer of absurdity to the whole situation.

However, one might say, the first instance happened in Belgium and everything else happened in the Netherlands. Two countries with two very different legal systems. You cannot compare that, can you? 

All right, then, let us take a look at the Belgian legal system.

A few weeks ago, political activist and former right-wing politician, Dries van Langenhove, was charged and sentenced for ‘incitement to racism’ and ‘hatred.’ What did he do? He was part of an online group chat, where people shared ‘offensive’ memes. He did not actually share any of these memes himself, nor can it be proven that he was even aware that they were being shared by others. 

But that did not matter.  He was sentenced to a year (!) in prison, a 16,000 euro fine and he has been banned from standing in an election for 10 years (!). Because of memes. Meanwhile, actually physically assaulting and possibly attempting to murder a right-wing politician in Belgium gets you nothing but a warning. You do not even have to face a judge.

The right-wing in Europe has to be fully prepared for blatant and sometimes extreme judicial unfairness. You will be prosecuted and persecuted for the most minor thing, whereas your enemies will be let off. 

On 20 November 2023, Thierry Baudet was assaulted for a second time, this time on Dutch soil. In this instance, he was hit in the head with a glass bottle during a campaign event in a bar. Antifa claimed responsibility for this attack. The incident is still under review and the last news is that the perpetrator, a minor, will actually be prosecuted. So now we will have to see whether the Dutch judiciary will actually crack down hard on political violence, or whether it will follow the Belgian path and leave it with a stern talking-to.


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