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Anti-Immigration Party Banned In Belgium
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[Recently by Paul Belien: Islamic Imigration And Murder Among The Tulips]
Exactly one week after the political assassination of Dutch journalist Theo Van Gogh in Holland last Tuesday, the Supreme Court in neighbouring Belgium has banned the Vlaams Blok, an anti-immigration party that happens to be the largest party in the country.[Blow to Belgium’s far right, BBC News]
Is there a connection between the Van Gogh assassination and the judicial execution of the Vlaams Blok?
There sure is.
In his last column, Van Gogh had praised the Flemings, the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Flanders, the northern half of Belgium, because they had managed to get rid of the local Antwerp Muslim leader Dyab Abu Jahjah.
Van Gogh noted Jahjah’s announcement in a Flemish newspaper that he is about to leave Belgium because too many Flemings vote Vlaams Blok.
The sooner I can leave, the better, Jahjah said. Flemings are stupid idiots. One million of them voted Vlaams Blok.
He announced that he would soon be returning to his native Lebanon. And he added a farewell message:
Every American, British or Dutch soldier that gets killed in Iraq, is a victory to me. I hope many more will follow.
But the next victim did not fall in Iraq, but in the streets of Amsterdam, where Van Gogh was slaughtered by a Muslim fanatic on November 2.
Today, however, it is less certain that Jahjah will have to leave Belgium. Its Supreme Court, the Cour de Cassation, ruled that Jahjah’s enemies in the Vlaams Blok (VB) belong to a racist organization. The party, consequently, has to be disbanded.
This is the first time in the history of Western Europe that a court ruling has forced a democratic party to disband.
The Belgian political establishment has been pushing for this measure for years. The VB is not only an anti-immigration party but also a secessionist party, striving for the independence of Flanders, the economic powerhouse of Belgium. During the past decade, the Belgian constitution was changed and five draconian laws were voted in order to strangle the VB. This is the latest, and most serious, attack.
Belgium is a West European kingdom that houses both the seats of the EU and NATO. It was established by an 1831 treaty that forced a Dutch-speaking majority of sixty percent Flemings to coexist with a minority of forty percent French-speakers living in the southern provinces of Wallonia.
From the start, Belgium was governed by a French-speaking establishment. After the World War II, when the Flemings claimed their political rights, both Dutch- and French-speakers were given a fifty percent say in running the country. Both groups held veto power.
This has led to a situation where the free-market oriented Flemings are being dominated by Socialist Walloons, who block all social and political reforms.
Stagnation has become the major characteristic of Belgian political life. And, in order to maintain the ethnic balance, the establishment invited foreign immigrants, mainly French-speakers from Morocco, to come to Belgium and apply for citizenship.
Thus in February 2001, Claude Eerdekens, the parliamentary leader of the Parti Socialiste declared in Parliament that 99% of the immigrants in Brussels—historically a Dutch-speaking town—filed their naturalisation papers in French. We do more to turn Brussels into a Francophone city than the Flemings can ever do to prevent it, he boasted.
And in September 2000 Leona Detiège, the Socialist mayor of Antwerp, declared that immigrants should be given the right to vote because the Vlaams Blok is currently overrepresented [in the city council] as the immigrants are not allowed to vote.
Flemish dissatisfaction with Belgium has gained the VB the support of one million voters in this country of only ten million inhabitants—one million of whom are foreigners. From three percent of the Flemish vote in the 1987 general elections, the VB has risen relentlessly to 24.1 percent in the regional elections last June. That won the VB 32 of the 124 seats in the Flemish regional parliament, making it the largest single party.
But, ostensibly because of its position on immigration, the VB has constantly been smeared by the establishment parties as a racist organisation, and it has been excluded from participation in the coalitions that typically control Belgian federal, regional and municipal legislatures by the so-called cordon sanitaire agreement, in which all the other parties piously vowed never to form a coalition with racists.
The VB’s anti-immigration rhetoric, however, is directed exclusively at Muslim fundamentalists to whom its message is to assimilate or return home. In Antwerp, where the party is supported by 34.9 percent of the electorate, the VB has a large backing of orthodox Jews who feel threatened by Islamic extremists like Jahjah. Filip Dewinter, the leader of the Antwerp chapter of the VB, said last March 23rd when he introduced Israeli author Avi Lipkin, a former spokesman of the Israeli army, to a VB audience, that Israel is the vanguard of the West in a feudal Middle East.
In fact, there are other reasons why the VB is shunned by Belgium’s establishment parties.
Its conservative family policies, its deeply felt ethical objections to abortion and euthanasia, its radical pursuing of the interests of Flanders, its republicanism, these are the issues voiced by no other party, these are in practice the indiscussable phantasms of the Vlaams Blok,
a leading left-wing columnist wrote in the anti-VB Flemish newspaper De Standaard last January.
In October 2000, the Vlaams Blok was brought to court by the Centre for Equal Opportunities and the Fight against Racism (CEOFR), a taxpayer-funded government quango reporting directly to the Prime Minister, with representatives of all political parties—except the VB—on its board.
The CEOFR has authority to prosecute racists under the Belgian Anti-Racism Act. Article 1 of this bill defines discrimination as
each form of distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference, which has or may have as its aim or consequence that the recognition, the enjoyment or exercise on an equal footing of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social or cultural sphere or in other areas of social life, is destroyed, affected or restricted. [emphasis added]
This, of course, is a dangrously vague definition—note the weasel words may have, the fact that the law covers all areas of social life, and that it’s an offense if rights or freedoms are (or may be) only affected, even unintentionally (as a consequence).
And last year, the Belgian Parliament voted an enhanced Anti-Discrimination Act which reversed the burden of proof. The complainant no longer needs to prove that the accused does indeed discriminate. It is up to the accused to prove that he does not.
This April, after a prolonged judicial battle of almost four years, the CEOFR complaint led to a conviction of the VB as a racist organisation by a Court of Appeal in Ghent.
The court cited a selection of texts provided by the CEOFR. These texts were an anthology of 16 different excerpts from publications by various local VB chapters between 1996 and 2000.
Many of the texts simply quoted official statistics on crime rates and social welfare expenditure. But they were, according to the court, published with an intention to contribute to a campaign of hatred.
One of the texts, which dealt with the position of women in fundamentalist Muslim societies, was written by a female Turkish-born VB member who had herself been raised in such an environment and had been subjected to a forced marriage. But the court said that, although the claims that were made in the story were not necessarily untrue, the VB published it not to inform the public about the position of women in the Islamic world, but to depict the image [of non-indigenous people] as unethical and barbarian.
The Belgian Anti-Racism Act, in its notorious Article 3, not only punishes racists, but everyone who, in whatever way, has any dealings with them:
Punishment with imprisonment for one month to one year and a fine of fifty francs to one thousand francs or with either of these is applied to whoever belongs to a group or society which clearly and repeatedly practices or teaches discrimination [ … ], as well as to whoever cooperates with such a group or society.
The Ghent ruling, which was upheld by the Belgian Supreme Court today, means that the CEOFR can prosecute every politician, every member and every cooperator of the party.
The verdict states explicitly:
By ‘belonging to’ a group or society is meant that the culprit [ … ] is a part of the group or society [ … ]. It is not necessary for him to have conducted any activities within the group or society. Similarly, ‘cooperating,’ by which is meant any form of support for the functioning of the group or society, does not imply the execution of criminal acts. The punishability of ‘belonging to’ and ‘cooperating’ follows from the mere knowledge that the group or society, to which one belongs or with which one cooperates, [ … ] commits discrimination.
The aim of the verdict is to kill the VB. And this, too, is stated explicitly in the court’s ruling:
Rendering punishable every person who belongs to or cooperates with a group or society [ … ] serves as an efficient means to suppress such groups or societies, as the lawmaker intended. [It] inherently jeopardizes the continued existence or functioning of the group or society [ … ].
In order to avoid criminal prosecutions against its members and collaborators, the VB will have to disband.
Anyone who ‘cooperated’ with us in the past five years, can lose their political rights, says VB Party Leader Frank Vanhecke—a member of the European Parliament.
If the elections were not by secret ballot, the Belgian authorities would even be able to prosecute each of the one million VB voters.
To protect its people against prosecution, the VB leadership has today decided to disband the party. It wants to establish a new party next Sunday, but this one, too, will probably be prosecuted.
The party leadership hopes, however, that it can postpone a new verdict against a new party for a number of years, allowing it to win future electoral victories, force its way into goverment and abolish Belgium.
Our voters deserve a democracy. Belgium refuses to grant them one; we will, Mr. Vanhecke said today. We will establish a new party. This one Belgium will not be able to bury; it will bury Belgium.
And, in the process, the Vlaams Blok will bury mass immigration too.
Paul Belien [email him] is a Flemish historian and journalist. His wife, Alexandra Colen, is a member of the Belgian House of Representatives for the Vlaams Blok
(Posted on November 10, 2004)