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Boxing contest between Molenbeek police and young people cancelled after criticism
A community event at an art museum in which amateur boxers from Brussels – police and citizens alike – would spar one another has been cancelled.
Originally due to take place in Molenbeek on Thursday at the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art (Mima), the event was called off after sharp criticism, namely that it would only widen the divide between police and the population they serve.
“Absurd and devaluing,” one person commented on a Facebook post promoting the event.
“This only increases the distance between the police force (which exists to protect the unarmed population) and the population who should feel protected by the police,” another person wrote.
“An increase in the dispute and understanding as enemies/adversaries. Complete denaturation of the essence of the police.”
Other comments were seemingly removed.
Mima announced the cancellation on its wesbsite, explaining that it did so in order to “prevent threats to the museum in general and to members of the artistic direction in particular”.
The boxing was to take place as part of a greater exhibition on "local heroes".
In addition to works of art exhibited on three floors, amateur boxers were to come and train in the museum, which was redesigned for the occasion as an ancient Greek gymnasium where both bodies and minds can be exercised.
The boxers were to compete in sparring bouts, an informal match in which two athletes, not necessarily of the same level nor automatically of the same weight category, confront each other while respecting the physical integrity of their partner.
“Many comments [on social media] regretted not taking the opportunity to discuss police violence, while others went so far as to claim that the aim was to provide a complacent showcase for the police,” the museum wrote in its explanation.
"The reality is quite different. The event in question pursued another goal that belongs to the current exhibition: how to overcome our prejudices.
"The meeting imagined between boxers was to be sporting and the occasion for an informal exchange, with no other goal than to create a human relationship. In other words, the wish was to bring people together in the same room beyond their differences."