VB upsets Francophone council meeting

23rd October 2007, Comments 0 comments

23 October 2007, WEZEMBEEK-OPPEM (AFP) - Belgian police ejected Flemish far-right officials from a local council meeting late Monday after they tried to stop representatives from speaking in French.

23 October 2007

WEZEMBEEK-OPPEM (AFP) - Belgian police ejected Flemish far-right officials from a local council meeting late Monday after they tried to stop representatives from speaking in French.

Around 10 officials, including a European deputy, from the Vlaams Belang party were led away by police in Wezembeek-Oppem, a municipality near Brussels that is part of the Flemish-speaking region of Flanders, an AFP reporter said.

The incident came amid tensions between Belgium's two main linguistic regions -- there is also a German speaking minority -- which are hindering the formation of a government, some four and a half months after general elections.

It occurred on an evening when the Wezembeek-Oppem council had placed three demands by French-speaking officials on its agenda.

When one of the councillors -- a French hardliner -- began to read a text, a Vlaams Belang deputy rose from the public stand and tore the document from his hand, while other Vlaams Belang officials chanted "Die Belgium".

When the councillor returned to reading his text in French, after police had intervened, Vlaams Belang's member of the European Parliament Frank Vanhecke took a turn at trying to snatch the document away.

Meanwhile, supporters chanted "Nederlands, Nederlands", or "Dutch, Dutch."

Police finally led Vanhecke, two parliamentarians and around half a dozen other officials out after a repeat performance on the remaining two demands.

"You have to respect the law, which says that only Dutch can be used at a local council meeting," Vanhecke had said as he arrived for the meeting.

"Belgium is on the verge of falling apart. That's my goal, by the way," he added.

Outside the council building, around 100 Vlaams Belang supporters were gathered along with members of other Flemish separatist parties.

A number of right-wing students, with shaved heads, chanted "French rats out," while one person carried a rooster -- symbol of the French-speaking Wallonia region -- hanging from a gallows.

Several flags bore the black Flemish lion, while one banner read: "Franskillons (Francophones of Flanders) Out".

[Copyright AFP 2007]

Subject: Belgian news

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