Youth groups protest against 'intolerance'
22 February 2006, BRUSSELS — Youth groups are up in arms against plans from police along the Belgian coast to ban the wearing of disguises.
22 February 2006
BRUSSELS — Youth groups are up in arms against plans from police along the Belgian coast to ban the wearing of disguises.
Already concerned by a recent ban on playground activities in Menen, scouting groups, the Flemish Youth Council and the Youth Support Centre have been further alarmed by the pending ban on costumes.
Police on the west coast — the municipalities of De Panne, Koksijde and Nieuwpoort — want to ban the wearing of clothing that makes someone unidentifiable. That includes Islamic burkas, but events such as Sinterklaas and carnival will be exempt.
The move comes after three incidents with youth groups, one of which involved a kidnapping game that ended when police intercepted the cars of the youth group's leaders and drew their weapons.
"We believe in good agreements, not in laws that even make it possible that Sinterklaas might have to appear in court next year," the youth organisations said.
The co-ordinator of the Flemish Youth Council, Pepijn Debosscher, also said the ban on disguises is not the only concern. A list of intolerance against children has been compiled.
"We are seeing increasing intolerance against youth activities. Twenty years ago children could make noise while playing, but apparently not any more," Debosscher said.
Scouting official Rudy Verhoeven said the rules are clear: costume activities are fun, but they are not designed to scare people.
However, he said youth games must still be exciting, lamenting that this is becoming increasingly difficult as the public becomes stricter on youth activities.
In response, police spokesman Johan Geeraert said police will not intervene in well-considered activities. "Unfortunately, it is youth movements that engage in cowboy practices that create problems on all sorts of levels."
"A strong dose of understanding is necessary, just like good agreements. But I also think that a breach of agreements must have consequences, thus our request for amended police regulations," he said.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news