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Thousands demonstrate across Belgium in collective call for racial justice
Around 1,000 people marched in the centre of Brussels on Sunday afternoon to protest against racist behaviour in all its forms, according to estimates by the Brussels-Capital/Ixelles police zone. The demonstration took place ahead of Monday’s International Day against Racism and Discrimination.
Many associations, collectives and citizen movements as well as several political parties were represented at the event. The procession started near North Station in Brussels and made its way to Mont des Arts, the end point of the march.
Similar demonstrations were organised in several other Belgian cities, including Ghent, Antwerp, Namur and Liège.
The event was organised by the 21/03 platform, a collective of organisations against racism and discrimination, which brought together 150 citizen associations. The broad group of activists protested against structural racism, Islamophobia, but also against the difference in refugee policy for Ukrainians and people of other nationalities.
"Islamophobia is widespread, as we see today in the headscarf debate, among other things,” said one demonstrator. “Often Islamophobia is not even seen as racist."
Environmental groups such as Greenpeace were also in attendance, linking climate justice to racial justice. "Racial discrimination, combined with the globalisation of production chains, is at the root of the exploitation of forests and giant deposits of plastic and electronic waste in the countries of the southern Hemisphere,” one activist said. “These discriminations are also at the root of the dismal working conditions of the people who make our clothes and the exploitation of resources that is destroying the planet."
Other groups, such as the citizen platform Belrefugees, which fights for refugee rights, and MRAX, the Movement against Racism, Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia, were also strongly represented.