What follows is a series of loose translations of French-language media accounts covering developing angles to the story.
The initial report, as carried in the Belgian news source 7sur7:The situation started deteriorating around 8:30 pm. The police were between a group of "youths of foreign origin" [later specified later in their reporting as "youths of north-african origin"] and "fans of the Anderlecht soccer team".
Charges by police officers mounted on horseback managed to keep the two hostile groups far apart from each other. The "youths of foreign origin" started throwing stones at the police, wounding at least one of them. A bus shelter was destroyed, several cars were damaged and store windows shattered.
The article says that, on Thursday, an (unspecified) blog carried a call for violence, inciting the "youths of foreign origin" to take on the "white supporters" of the Anderlecht team. This call to battle was set off by a fight that took place the Sunday before, on May 18, following an Anderlecht soccer game.
A later account adds that police made no less than 193 arrests that Friday night. Four of the individuals arrested were carrying baseball bats, which the article describes as "prohibited weapons". 14 police officers were injured throughout that evening. All were hospitalized, two with serious wounds.A French-language news video showing the scale of the urban warfare, here:
The next day, Gaëtan Van Goidsenhoven, mayor ["burgomaster"] of Anderlecht passed an ordinance prohibiting a gathering of more than 5 persons within the territory of the municipality.
The following Friday (May 30), police arrested another 100 persons "pre-emptively" in Anderlecht. Most of them were minors, and were not from the local community. Some had already been arrested during the violence of the week before, and evidently released in the interim.
Some of the individuals arrested were carrying bladed weapons. Police also found two molotov cocktails among the arrested.
The police later issued a requisition order aimed at local media, asking that press and television sources give them images and video taken during the violent night, whether or not it had been aired or published. The General Association of professional Belgian journalists (AGJPB) have asked Belgian media to not cooperate with this demand.
According to the association, this requisition "illustrates the lack of respect for the function of media to inform in total independence." Giving over the material "would place journalists in an auxiliary position to the police and would put [the journalists] in danger -- whether they are before the camera or editors -- as soon as they would cover events on the ground."
The AGJBP further states that "the judicial preoccupation with identifying persons involved in the Anderlecht riots does not weigh sufficiently in regards to the interests at stake in relation to freedom of the press."
They add that "nothing is stopping the authorities from gaining information from the images that the media have already themselves broadcast or published."
Heavy police presence on weekends since the initial clash have kept things tense, but calm. Tensions are not being helped by waves of false rumors, claiming that attacks have happened or are about to happen, rumors designed to spark off new riots.
One of the organizers said: "It's important to talk with everybody. The residents have a role to play to keep similar incidents from happening again. We must make an attempt for each to express themselves in words and not in stones. There is no malaise in particular in Anderlecht. But once in a while we recognize difficulties here as in all the large cities where several cultures co-exist."
Deputy Mayor Fabrice Cumps, participating in the march, said "We want to show today what unites us rather than what divides us. The future of Anderlecht and of Brussels more generally is this multiculturalism. We must live together in respect."
(Some googling reveals that I'm hardly posting a "scoop" with this story. It was news to me when I came across it in my recent French media readings, however, so I'm hoping that for some of our readers this is news for you, as well.)
UPDATE: Esther at the European blog Islam in Europe has some further details on the Anderlecht riots and their aftermath, translated into English from Dutch news sources.
Also, the Brussels Journal provides yet more background on the Belgian riots.
As well, it's fitting that I humbly link back to an earlier Covenant Zone post on an additional problem on top of all the others connected with this story: Belgian prisons have little room for these hundreds of arrested juvenile delinquents.