Police ‘doing all they can’ to trace death threats
4 March 2005
BRUSSELS – Belgium’s justice minister has promised every effort is being made to find the racists who are making death threats against the employer of a Muslim woman.
The green Ecolo party and the humanist cdH both called on the government to do more after Naima Amzil resigned from her job at a firm called ‘Remmery’ in Ledegem.
The 31-year-old praised her employer Rik Van Nieuwenhuyze who has refused to dismiss her despite seven letters threatening him and his family for employing someone who wears a headscarf.
However, Amzil said the pressure on her was too much and she was extremely worried for Van Nieuwenhuyze after the last two letters which contained bullets.
Answering questions on the case in parliament on Thursday, Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx said an investigating magistrate, the public prosecutor’s office and six investigators were doing everything they could to find the group behind the threats, which calls itself Nieuw Vrij Vlaanderen (New Free Flanders).
She said the federal police had spent 1,800 hours on the investigation, using specialised research techniques, while the local force was giving the victims of the case police protection.
“If reinforcements are necessary, I will arrange for them,” said Onkelinx, stating she was extremely shocked by the developments in the case.
At the moment, the investigation has been conducted from Courtrai, but Onkelinx pledged to involve other regional police forces if victims elsewhere in Belgium were also threatened.
La Libre Belgique reported that, in the absence of clues to the identity of the Nieuw Vrij Vlaanderen members, there had been much speculation.
The extreme right-wing political party Vlaams Belang has come under suspicion because of its views on immigrants and because its youth group’s newspaper is titled: “Vrij Vlaanderen”.
But the Belang denies any involvement in the death threats.
Political parties and workers’ unions have all expressed their support for Amzil and Van Nieuwenhuyze, as has the anti-racist group MRAX.
MRAX, though, argued that it was not enough for the authorities to simply condemn the death threats.
It said politicians needed to treat the source of the problem – Islamophobia expressed in acts such as the exclusion of girls wearing headscarves from school.
In a statement, it said: “Islamophobia is not only to be condemned when it takes the form of death threats.”
It could also take other forms, it said, such as “excluding a citizen from a job, a school, a disco or accommodation because he or she is Muslim”.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news