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Judge upholds case against National Front

Published on 10/03/2004

10 March 2004

BRUSSELS – A Belgian judge on Wednesday ruled that a case against Belgium’s far-right Front National could go ahead despite the French-speaking political party’s insistence that the lawsuit should be thrown out.

A coalition of civil liberties and anti-racism groups brought the case against the Front National, which stands accused of committing a number of racist crimes.

The Front National says the lawsuit has not been properly prepared and that it should be thrown out on a technicality.

But on Wednesday, the head of Belgium’s appeal court, Raymond Loop, said the court case could go ahead.

The Front National’s opponents say their court case matters because they believe their action will send an important message that racist politics are not acceptable in Belgium.

Meanwhile, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt on Tuesday outlined his blueprint for dealing with Belgium’s other main far-right party, the Flemish Vlaams Blok.

Speaking at a political debate in the city of Leuven, Verhofstadt argued that effective grass-roots local government was the best way to deal with the extremists.

Towns that have put in effective policies and listened to local residents have seen support for the Blok fall off significantly, the Prime Minister said.

“The results of the last national elections showed this only too well,” he said.

In the 2003 election the Vlaams Blok lost support in a number of large Belgian cities including Bruges, Leuven and Gent, where the city authorities have made great efforts to improve services for local people.

But critics point out that a recent survey, carried out by Belgium’s sate broadcaster RTBF and Le Soir newspaper, showed that the Blok could make significant gains in the country’s forthcoming regional elections, often at the expense of Verhofstadt’s own Flemish Liberal Democrat (VLD) party.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news