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Christian advocacy group hails Brussel's decision to allow NatCon to go ahead

by Premier Journalist

The Belgian court made a late-night decision allowing the National Conservatism Conference to proceed on Wednesday.

Scheduled for April 16-17th, the conference can now continue its second day of discussions without government interference, according to the Conseil d’État, Belgium's highest administrative court.

After authorities initially stopped the conference on Tuesday, citing public safety concerns, and blocked access to the venue, organisers challenged this with ADF International's help.

The court upheld the principle of free speech, asserting that the Belgian Constitution protects peaceful assembly. It found no substantiated evidence of a violent threat warranting the conference's closure.

Notably, the court observed that concerns regarding public order were primarily rooted in potential reactions from opponents rather than the conference itself.

Jean-Paul Van de Walle told Premier Christian News he hailed the court ruling as a triumph for free speech.

“The first question one should ask is what is to be considered an extremist ideology? But I think broadening the picture here, what is at stake is democracy itself. So democracy doesn't filter whether you have an extremist or a somehow less extremist position or whether you have a neutral position, if that's even possible in any way. What democracy calls for is a sound debate, a free exchange of ideas. And that's exactly what was at stake here.”

“The judge recognised that there's no place in the capital of Europe for political censorship of certain ideas. Whether you're called an extremist by some and not by others should not even be relevant. From a legal point of view, what is at stake here is proper protection of the fundamental right to freedom of expression.”

For Van de Walle, protecting freedom of expression is crucial for Christians.

He said: “I think it's the responsibility of every Christian to try to mirror the behaviour, including its speech to that of the Lord. I would say this, of course, applies to Christians, but not only is that fundamental freedoms are all the more better protected and relevant if we use them. And we as Christians are called to spread the Gospel through to all corners of the world and therefore we need freedom of expression. So, actually, in essence, a Christian is someone who should be, on a daily basis, using freedom of expression to spread the news of the Gospel.”

On Wednesday, the conference featured Viktor Orbán, alongside former Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and British commentator Melanie Phillips.

Themes such as the crisis facing faith and the family, the dynamics of borders and the nation-state, and the trajectory of Europe's future are also explored during the conference.

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