expatica.com, Apr. 26
BRUSSELS — Last week’s ruling by a Gent court that the far-right Flemish Vlaams Blok is legally racist may end up playing in the party’s favour, several leading Flemish politicians have warned.
Mainstream Flemish parties say the publicity surrounding the court ruling may mean the next month’s regional and European elections in Belgium become focused on the question of the Vlaams Blok’s future instead of on other issues.
Party leaders seem particularly concerned by what they see as the decision by the Belgian media to continue reporting on the Vlaams Blok as a ‘normal’ political party despite the fact that it has now officially been branded racist.
On Saturday, Dirk Sterkx, President of the Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt’s Flemish Liberal Democrat (VLD) party, said “no democratic party can envisage co-operating with the Vlaams Blok.”
But Sterckx added that the media should also reconsider the way its covers the far-right party’s activities.
“The fight against racism does not only happen in the world of politics,” he said.
“It must also be carried out by the media, the business community, trade unions and all other kinds of organisations. Everyone must take part and for me the court ruling must lead to a change,” he added.
Steve Staevert, president of the Flemish socialist party (SP.A), made similar comments over the weekend, calling on the media to seriously reconsider the way they report the Blok.
“Should we continue to debate with people who have been condemned for racism?” he asked.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]