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Anti-Austerity Protesters Pelt Potatoes at Prime Minister

The PM gets tarred-and-feathered with mayo and fries, Belgium’s favorite street snack.

Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel just received a Christmas present nobody wishes for: a fries and mayonnaise shower attack. During a business event in Namur yesterday somehow a slew of anti-austerity protestors—most of them women, it seems—got close enough to the PM to throw fries over his head and douse his suit in several squirts of Pollock-ian mayo. The entire attack was captured on video, including the PM’s affable response; he seemed to find the creativity of the attack amusing, at least. Mayonnaise fries, in fact, are a popular national street food in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Using food in political protest—in this case Belgium’s national dish—has a rich and long history, the most famous of which is probably the Boston Tea Party, when protestors ignited the American Revolution by famously dumping a shipload of British tea into the city’s harbor in 1773. In the 1950s the British rebel group known as the Teddy Boys initiated a period known as “Yaourtoma”—throwing yogurt, usually on elected officials, as a means of protest. It then became all the rage in Greece (which makes more sense, when you think about it), to the point that the Greek legislature passed a law in 1958 banning the practice and creating specific punishments (namely public humiliation) for its offenders. More recently groups like the Biotic Baking Brigade have used the comedy trope of “pieing”—taking a cream pie to the face—to make a political statement. The leftwing social justice group’s targets have included San Francisco’s former mayor Willie Brown, Swedish King Carl Gustaf, and former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

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