Belgian police fire tear gas at anti-tax protesters in Brussels, arrest 70
Belgian police have fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators inspired by France’s “yellow vests” anti-tax movement in the capital Brussels.
Protesters, dressed in yellow jackets that have become a symbol of the protests in France, gathered in two districts of the city, namely Arts Lois and Porte de Namur, on Saturday.
Police already blocked access to the area housing European institutions including the offices of the European Commission and the European Parliament as a precautionary measure. Anti-riot officers used tear gas against protesters as they were trying to break the blockade and force their way through.
Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van De Keere said nearly 70 people were arrested “following checks carried out as a preventive measure.”
According to the Belgian news agency Belga, young protesters blocked a highway linking Brussels to the town of Rekkem in Flanders, located near the French border.
Belga said the demonstrators also put up a barricade near the Franco-Belgian border close to Adinkerque.
France’s intense protests, which degenerated into street clashes and vandalism throughout Paris over the weekend, broke out last month over fuel taxes aimed at financing France’s anti-pollution measures.
The massive protests were initially triggered by the rising cost of fuel this year, and rapidly expanded into a wider revolt against government policies, which stands accused of pursuing policies that primarily impact low-income households in the country.
Many influential figures in France have reportedly been pressing President Emmanuel Macron to alleviate the popular anger after witnessing the urban violence in the country’s capital on Saturday, when dozens of automobiles were burned and businesses attacked and looted.