Police raid church, evict immigrant protestors
4 July 2006, BRUSSELS — Brussels South police raided the church Our Sweet Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Anderlecht on Tuesday and cleared the building of 48 illegal immigrants.
4 July 2006
BRUSSELS — Brussels South police raided the church Our Sweet Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Anderlecht on Tuesday and cleared the building of 48 illegal immigrants.
The operation took place on request from Mayor Jacques Simonet at about 6.30am in co-operation with the immigration service DVZ-OE. The illegal immigrants were taken to the local police station.
Police drew up a report about the church sit-in protest after complaints from residents over disturbances of the peace, poor living conditions and a lack of hygiene.
According to police, the only toilet that was available for the 48 illegal immigrants was in a terrible state.
Residents also claimed that they heard heated discussions and witnessed fights because only foreigners without proper identification documents were being allowed to enter the church.
Among the protestors, police found two French nationals, who claimed they were staying in the church because hotel rooms in Brussels were too expensive. Both of them were immediately released.
A group lobbying for residency rights of illegal immigrants, Kerkasiel.anders, said police raids in churches where protestors have sought sanctuary are not an option for the problems around the residency debate.
Currently, there are 40 sit-in protests being staged across the country, newspaper 'De Standaard' reported on Tuesday.
"The churches and supporting communities have taken up their responsibility with their public-spirited act and given a signal that something is wrong in society," Kerkasiel.anders spokesman Didier Vanderslycke said.
The organisation urged for a clear and concise debate that should lead to a solution to current problems.
It said the pastor of the Anderlecht church had repeatedly asked for discussions with the commune about the church sit-in protests, but Mayor Simonet had never agreed to a meeting.
Kerkasiel (Church Asylum) said the police raid was a provocation, stressing it was both a precedent and a political fact.
If the action was not designed as a provocation, the group said the government should give a definite signal that the current "social problem" would be dealt with in a humane way.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news