Expatica news

Muslim race victim ‘an example’ to francophones

6 May 2005

BRUSSELS – The Minister-President of Flanders has used the example of a Moroccan victim of race-hate mail to argue some of Belgium’s residents should have to speak Dutch.

“What Nahima Amzil has been able to do – learn Dutch and integrate – can’t that be asked of francophones in the Brussels periphery?” said Yves Letermy.

The Belgian media was quick to point out that Letermy, a Flemish Christian Democrat, was using the high profile case of Remmery worker Amzil to argue that bilingual Brussels-Hal-Vilvorde should be made Flemish.

The future of the commune has divided Belgian politicians for months and could threaten Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and his government if it is not settled within a week.

News agency Belga said Amzil, who works at ready-meal firm Remmery in Ledegem, had become “an emblematic figure for integration in Flemish society”.

Earlier this week, Amzil’s ordeal seemed to come to an end after a 57-year-old man was charged for sending threatening letters to her boss Rik Van Nieuwenhuyse. On Friday, the man was released on bail, on condition that he does not talk to the press or contact anyone else suspected of being involved in the threats.

The seven letters – two of which contained bullets – threatened Van Nieuwenhuyse’s life and that of his family for letting Amzil wear a headscarf to work. Amzil resigned from work for several weeks under the pressure.

Letermy said: “Some people who have lived in Flanders for 10, 20 or 30 years adapt well in the society. Mrs Amzil has done that well. If everyone shows her good will, we can reach a solution.”

The CD&V member said the federal government had made “a lot of effort” to reach a solution on BHV. “I hope also that on the part of the francophones a healthy discernment will win through.”

Verhofstadt is in Moscow for the festivities to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two and due to return on Tuesday when the majority parties in the federal parliament will meet to talk about BHV again.

If no deal is reached between them, Verhofstadt could present his resignation to King Albert II. The king could either accept his resignation or allow him extra time to work for an agreement.

If the king accepts Verhofstadt’s resignation, parliament will be dissolved and elections called within 40 days.

The radio and television company RTBF suggested the prime minister would try to avoid elections falling in the summer holidays, since that is usually politically bad news, and dissolve parliament by the latest on 17 May.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news