Politician Thierry Baudet was hit on the head by a man before a lecture at Ghent University, who was subsequently arrested. The man hit Baudet with a folding umbrella.
Vlaams Belang politician Filip Dewinter was at the incident. On a video he shared on X it can be seen that the FVD leader is hit as he walks into the university building.
Thierry Baudet gets hit on the head in Ghent
In the NPO Radio 1 program Along the Line and Surrounding Areas Baudet says that things are going well considering the circumstances, but that he has “a big bump” on his head. “I was able to give my lecture after having a glass of water. But it is of course very unfortunate that this happened.”
The politician says it looked like an “ambush”. “I was distracted on one side and then someone jumped at me from the left with what turned out to be an umbrella. It happened very quickly.”
The lecture started a little after the scheduled time of 8:00 PM. According to the Belgian news site VRT, about 300 people had a ticket.
In images, the perpetrator can be heard shouting “no to fascism, no to Putinism” at Baudet after hitting him with the umbrella, apparently in Ukrainian.
Baudet has regularly attended in the past pro-Russian exuberance, including the investigation into the downing of flight MH17. Just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Baudet called Putin “the leader of conservative Europe. Wonderful guy.”
VRT journalist Ward Schouppe saw the incident happen. He says there were many journalists and police officers at the university when Baudet arrived. An hour earlier, about twenty people protested in the center of Ghent, not far from the university, against the politician’s arrival. According to Schouppe, they had a Ukrainian flag with them.
The Flemish journalist says that Baudet screamed at the moment of the attack, but that the blow itself seemed not to be too bad. “He walked past me with his hand on his head, but as far as I could see he wasn’t hurt.”
Before Baudet’s visit to Ghent University there was all the hassle about the lecture, which was organized by the conservative student association KVHV. The university preferred to cancel the lecture due to incidents with previous guest speakers. But the Council of State ruled that safety could be guaranteed and that the university had to make its facilities available for the lecture.
On X, many political parties in the House of Representatives express their outrage about the incident. “Unacceptable”, “unacceptable” and “unheard of”, say, for example, VVD, CDA, ChristenUnie, BBB, PVV, GroenLinks/PvdA, NSC, ChristenUnie and Denk.
It is assumed that the action has a political reason. “Completely unacceptable what happened to Thierry Baudet tonight. Violence must never be tolerated. Free speech must be protected and the perpetrator prosecuted,” says GroenLinks/PvdA leader Timmermans.
“Violence is always unacceptable and especially here because it is intended to restrict Thierry Baudet’s freedom of expression,” Omtzigt of NSC said. And VVD leader Yesilgoz says: “You fight words with words. Never with violence. This is absolutely unacceptable.”
Prime Minister Rutte also responds in similar terms.
The parties also wish Baudet a lot of strength.
The post first appeared on nos.nl