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Proposed guided tours of Uccle's 'super-rich' spark controversy

10:14 27/02/2024

Anyone curious to find out how the "other half" – more specifically Brussels’ wealthiest citizens – lives can take part, or join a very long waiting list for, a two-hour tour of the capital’s richest quarter, Uccle’s Prince d’Orange district, on 30 March.

A May 2023 survey by Belgian property website Immoweb showed that three of the capital’s top five most expensive streets to buy somewhere to live in were in this district.

Avenue des Châlets is top of the list at €5,662/m², with Drève du Caporal (€5,529/m²) and Drève de Lorraine (€5,514/m²) in fourth and fifth place. The exclusive Rue du Buisson near Ixelles Ponds made second and third place (its Brussels and Ixelles sections respectively).

The tour of Uccle with a difference was announced on the Facebook page of the youth section of French-speaking socialist union FGTB, which will lead the walk.

“This is a guided tour, with an expert sociologist, to try and understand how we become rich, how inequalities grow, the role of inheritance and how fortunes are distributed in the urban area,” federation project leader Miguel Schelck said.

Not everyone welcomed the initiative. Uccle’s mayor Boris Dilliès has dubbed the idea "grotesque".

"Everyone has the right to come and go in all neighbourhoods, including Uccle, but any demonstration must receive authorisation first," he said. "Once I have obtained their request, it will be examined, and to avoid any problems, I could ask the police to supervise the walk."

For their part, the organisers do not understand why such a request should be made as the event is not a demonstration, but a simple “guided walk”.

The tour has already attracted more than 1,100 replies. As it will only hold 25 people, another has already been arranged for 20 April and others are planned after the summer, as “so many people are still on the waiting list,” FGTB Jeunes said.

“We will keep talking about the ultra-rich, and fighting the system that produces and reproduces social inequalities,” the group said on Facebook, adding that using police for just 25 people would not only be a waste of public money but also discriminatory.

However, discriminatory is exactly what the nationalist N-VA member of parliament Theo Francken has called the walk.

FGTB said that Dilliès, from the conservative Mouvement Réformateur party, "accuses us of being an extreme-left movement organising a 'stigmatising and grotesque' activity", adding that it had received hundreds of negative comments as well as support on social media.

"Is our visit stigmatising?" the group asked. "Who suffers discrimination today in housing, employment, health, education, police, etc?

"The ‘super-rich’? Or women, immigrants, unemployed, LGBT people, union workers or members of a left-wing party, Muslims, Jews, etc? Is it not more generally, the entire working class that is still oppressed by the ‘super-rich’?”

Written by Liz Newmark



Walking past the homes of politicians would make more sense if pointing out inequality is the goal. The walk in Uccle just sounds like a jealousy march.

Mar 1, 2024 15:06