Thank you Emir, for playing Sultan

The leftist Mayor of the Saint-Josse district of central Brussels, who issued an order to ban the conference for reasons of “public safety”, has now become NatCon’s biggest benefactor. (EPA/JULIEN WARNAND)


Having been a speaker at the 2022 National Conservatism conference in Brussels, there are two things I can say without hesitation.

First: NatCon is a remarkable gathering of conservative politicians, intellectuals, media professionals and public figures from all over the world. It is a place where reason and dialogue are allowed to prevail in an effort to preserve the best elements of our Western heritage. There is absolutely no room for racism and hate in this institution.

Second: up until this week, NatCon did not enjoy the media attention it deserved.

Emir Kir has just single-handedly fixed this.

The leftist Mayor of the Saint-Josse district of central Brussels, who issued an order to ban the conference for reasons of “public safety”, has now become NatCon’s biggest benefactor.

With his irrational and authoritarian decision, the Bourgemestre not only highlights all that is rotten in the heart of the European superstate, but has also drawn the world’s attention to the injustice and discrimination conservatives face in the West today.

He decided to ban prominent figures from all over Europe from gathering to talk about their love for the nation-state. It may sound like a story out of a Michel Houellebecq novel, but it is as true as it gets. The reason why he did it is very simple: Emir Kir ordered NatCon to cease and desist and sent his police force to shut it down because it never even crossed his mind that this was something that he could not do.

This is how the system works. Silencing those who react to the illiberal, woke, statist and internationalist agenda by simply branding them as racist — as Kir explicitly did — is nowadays the norm.

What Kir did is what the media normally does. What Kir did is what happens in politics, what parliaments impose through cordons sanitaires, what takes place in schools and academic institutions, even in workplaces. What Kir did is what political correctness has become about: granting the elites and establishment permission to block conservative opinions from the public sphere, no matter how peacefully and reasonably they are being articulated.

But Kir also missed one small detail, which proved to be of crucial importance: his order lacked even the most basic sense of tact. 

Kir bit off slightly more than he could chew. And this backfired. Had he wanted to be successful in undermining NatCon, he ought to have moved sooner and in a more discrete and methodical manner. Even despotism has its etiquette and decorum. It is not so much about respecting the letter of the law, as it is about not showing off as outright authoritarian.

You don’t simply ban a function where the Hungarian PM and the former PM of Poland are set to speak by issuing a last-minute decree. After all, you are a mayor, not the Sultan.

So, all hell broke loose. The staunch NatCon organisers refused to give in and the ban became headline news all around the world. Media like the BBC, France 24, Deutsche Welle, Politico, Euractiv, Fox News, The New York Times and The Times of India were forced to cover the story. World leaders like Viktor Orban, Giorgia Meloni and Rishi Sunak protested the conference’s cancellation. Even leftist Greek politician Yanis Varoufakis came out in support of the conference, saying that Nigel Farage and his friends ultimately had the “right to annoy him”.

In the end, the Belgian PM himself denounced the mayor’s move as “unacceptable”.

For a couple of days, the world had the opportunity to witness what contemporary oppression looks like. Those who compare the Orwellian EU superstate’s methods and agenda to communist regimes were vindicated on live TV and on the timelines.

NatCon became a symbol of struggle against systemic injustice and lack of tolerance, while “the mayor of Brussels” ended up a villain. Those who had never heard of the National Conservatism conference and the great work it does, are now familiar with it. The institution has been put firmly on the map. Even critics and opponents now know who we are. They know we are here, and that we mean business.

Thank you so much, Emir Kir.