Any guidebook will tell you that a visit to Belgium is incomplete without sampling the country’s most famous foods: waffles, mussels, beer, and of course — the fries and mayonnaise.
The beloved snack is also used to send powerful political messages, apparently. On Monday anti-austerity protesters decided to tell Prime Minister Charles Michel how they feel about his fiscal policies by pelting him with the Belgian specialty.
The protesters interrupted a press conference in the city of Namu by chucking fries at the prime minister and squirting mayonnaise all over his otherwise immaculate suit, shouting, “Michel out, austerity out!”
The 38-year-old PM seemed to be unfazed by the protest, apologising to the audience for smelling of mayonnaise. It’s not his first run-in with Belgians unhappy with his policies, and it looks like it won’t be his last.
The group behind the protest is called LillithS, and claims to be an offshoot of FEMEN, according to Le Soir, a Belgian newspaper. They say that they oppose public spending cuts carried out by Michel’s government. The center-right politician is head of a coalition that plans to save 11 billion euros ($13.7 billion) over five years.
With cuts like that, “nothing is left but fries with austerity sauce,” the group told Le Soir.
Michel has announced public spending cuts and plans to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67, as well as ending an automatic cost-of-living raise for 2015.
Last Monday, labor unions called for a general strike, bringing the country to a standstill. A spokesperson for the Brussels airport told Al Jazeera English that the 24-hour protest meant the cancellation of 600 flights, impacting the travel plans of 50,000 people.
Michel’s austerity measures sparked a large protest last month, where 100,000 people took to the streets of Brussels. — Agencies