topics
tools
Expatica countries
editor's choice

Learning with the International Primary Curriculum

Remote training for expatriates

Should our kids go native too?

Pre-school activities in Belgium

How expats are learning the local lingo

Index Last Var.(%)
BEL 20 3083.51 0.32
DAX 9605.08 0.17
IBEX 30 10058.5 -1.04
CAC 40 4387.61 -0.20
FTSE 100 6806.86 -0.05
AEX 397.5 -0.20
DJIA 16272.65 0.46
Nasdaq 4318.933 0.63
FTSE MIB 20298.33 -0.11
TSX Composite 14214.35 0.18
ASX 5415.4 -0.10
Hang seng 22836.96 0.04
Straits Times 3110.78 0.45
ISEQ 20 836.3 0.23
EUR / USD 1.37976 0.67
EUR / GBP 0.82571 0.59
USD / GBP 0.598544 -0.10
Gold 1329.6 -0.13
Oil 108.9 -0.76
Silver 21.28 0.08
You are here: Home Life in Blogs & photos Battling the racists
Enlarge font Decrease font Text size


12/05/2006Battling the racists

Battling the racists Racism is never pretty, but when it leads to murder and violent assaults, society must re-examine itself and question why it has come to this.

Belgium is in the grip of racist violence.

 

 

A black man from Paris is beaten into a coma in Brugge allegedly by three skinheads.

 

An African woman and a Turkish woman are shot in Antwerp.

In the same week, arsonists attack the home of a Moroccan family in Kortrijk.

A Moroccan youth drowns in the Schelde River, allegedly pushed into the water by white night-clubbers.

And all of these crimes were allegedly committed by native Belgians.

But at Brussels Central station on 12 April, North African immigrants were initially accused of killing teenager Joe Van Holsbeeck.

North Africans were, however, falsely accused of that crime.

The suspects eventually turned out to be Polish, foreigners nonetheless, but not the Islamic delinquents blamed, and rightly, by some of the crimes of urban street violence and muggings.

Conversely, the wave of violence in the past week has targeted immigrants.

The nation is now at a crossroads.

Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt warned society against spiralling violence in response to the Antwerp murders.

Not forgotten are the race riots in Antwerp that were sparked after an immigrant man was shot and killed by a neighbour in November 2002.

Similar scenes have so far been spared this time and instead, a silent vigil and commemorative service have been held for the victims. A silent march is planned for 26 May.

But concerns are not easily allayed.

Take the Netherlands, for example, a nation that has witnessed deep-seated racial tension in the past few years.

In May 2002, a native Dutch man shot and killed rising star politician Pim Fortuyn for his anti-immigration policies. In mourning, the nation breathed a collective sigh of relief that the murderer was not an immigrant.

But amid concerns of ethnic violence and immigrant ghettos, the Netherlands has steadfastly adopted the anti-immigration rhetoric in the years since, trying to glue its polarised society together with integration lessons for newcomers and tighter immigration laws.

And then, in November 2004, filmmaker Theo van Gogh is stabbed on an Amsterdam street by a Moroccan man for his anti-Islamic remarks.

A group of Islamic suspects, dubbed the Hofstad Group, was then arrested and jailed for plans to kill prominent leaders such as the Somali-born and outspoken anti-Islamic MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali. 

Returning to Belgium, similarities can be witnessed.

The extreme-right Flemish independence party, Flemish Block, won 25 percent of the vote in the 2000 local council elections in Flanders. It has long campaigned on an anti-immigration and Flemish independence ticket.

Though officially excluded from public office by a 'cordon sanitaire' imposed by the mainstream political parties, the Flemish Interest's anti-immigration stance is nonetheless echoed at a federal level.

In recent years, Belgium has pursued a tighter immigration policy, greatly reducing the number of asylum seekers. Less than 12,000 are expected to enter the country this year compared with 42,000 in 2000.

And in Flanders, a government commission has recently completed a study identifying Flemish norms and values. The findings will be included in integration courses and booklets offered to immigrants.

Across the border, the Dutch government has pursued a similar norms and values debate. It also resisted calls from many long-term asylum seekers to offer a general amnesty in 2004, opting instead to deport up to 23,000 people.

Back in Belgium, 25 churches across the country are currently being occupied by illegal immigrants and asylum seekers demanding residency. Interior Minister Patrick Dewael refuses to back down, claiming many of the protestors are simply staying here illegally.

And then, flashpoint: on 11 May 2006, an 18-year-old man is arrested for the shooting murder of an African au-pair looking after a two-year-old Flemish girl, who was also killed in the attack. The man is also accused of shooting and injuring a Turkish woman.

The public prosecution immediately describes the murders as racially-motivated.

The tragedy cannot be described as an isolated incident.

It is part of a Belgian and worldwide anti-immigration atmosphere.

In Wallonia, the extreme-right party Front National blames immigrants for society's problems, statements that eventually lead to the conviction of party chairman Daniel Féret in April for inciting racial hatred.

And let's not forget the Flemish Interest, which, for example, falsely accused immigrant youths of vandalising graves in Sint-Niklaas last year or the fact that its predecessor, the Flemish Block, was convicted of racism in 2004.

Racism breeds racism.

A divide has opened up between the native and immigrant communities in Belgium. And that divide will only open up further if Belgium repeats the Dutch crackdown.

Many tried to close this divide when 80,000 people marched in Brussels in silence to honour Joe Van Holsbeeck and reject violence committed by the (falsely identified) North African delinquents.

However, fringe elements of society cannot always be held back, even if a multiple murder spree happens less than a month after 80,000 people say no to violence in a show of strength not seen in Belgium for a decade.

Similar to the fears in which the France-style race rioting would spill its borders as cars were torched in Brussels and other Belgian cities back in November 2005, the turmoil that the Netherlands has experienced in recent years has also 'migrated'.

But it is not an exported problem.

No, Belgium is facing what many other countries are facing; social division based on ethnic and socio-economic differences.

And that divide can only be breached by trust and commitment to each other.

Unfortunately, false accusations, inhumane anti-immigration policies, murders and yes, certain delinquent youth carrying out street muggings do not serve to build that trust.
 
And where there is no trust, there can be no love.

12 May 2006

[Copyright Expatica 2006]

Subject: Belgian news




2 reactions to this article

Partha Banerjee posted: 2008-08-25 14:26:39

I wonder why blame the the so called skinheads for racism when two Moroccans tried to pick my pocket in broad daylight in Brussels. These people who think that that staying in Europe is their birthright just because they have somehow managed to sneak in here should be shunned forever or should be shot down. It has nothing to do with racism but but law and order of any country. I am not a white but I support any action taken against illegal immigrants. Most of them are unskilled, uneducated, uncultured and unscrupulous scums.

Luiz posted: 2008-08-28 23:29:26

Generalization is the word! It´s not because the stealers are Moroccans that all people from this country will be "Bad". You think that kill is the soloution? Blame who them?

I´m not Moroccans but yes, you are racist and the worst of this race because you dont know that (lke Hitler). Stealers will exists in all countries and from all nationalities the problem is from the government and the government use the immigration problem to despite attention from the more dumb people in EU, and WORKED IT!!!

2 reactions to this article

Partha Banerjee posted: 2008-08-25 14:26:39

I wonder why blame the the so called skinheads for racism when two Moroccans tried to pick my pocket in broad daylight in Brussels. These people who think that that staying in Europe is their birthright just because they have somehow managed to sneak in here should be shunned forever or should be shot down. It has nothing to do with racism but but law and order of any country. I am not a white but I support any action taken against illegal immigrants. Most of them are unskilled, uneducated, uncultured and unscrupulous scums.

Luiz posted: 2008-08-28 23:29:26

Generalization is the word! It´s not because the stealers are Moroccans that all people from this country will be "Bad". You think that kill is the soloution? Blame who them?

I´m not Moroccans but yes, you are racist and the worst of this race because you dont know that (lke Hitler). Stealers will exists in all countries and from all nationalities the problem is from the government and the government use the immigration problem to despite attention from the more dumb people in EU, and WORKED IT!!!

 
 
 
 
 
Inside Expatica
Looking for work in Belgium

Looking for work in Belgium

This handy guide from Expertise in Labour Mobility includes how to write a CV, application procedure, interview dos and don'ts, Belgian management culture.

Practical, easy-to-use, free and... in English

Practical, easy-to-use, free and... in English

Belgium’s first alternative directory assistance services - available through the shortcode 14-14 - can now be accessed on the internet.

Finding a rental home in Belgium

Finding a rental home in Belgium

Moving to Belgium presents a host of challenges to expats, not least of all finding the right home.

Learning to cope with life abroad

Learning to cope with life abroad

The psychological effects of global mobility can be physically painful.