Two government-subsidized Brussels organisations, the “intercultural youth platform” Kif Kif and the “movement against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia” MRAX, have lodged a complaint before the Belgian judicial authorities against Filip Dewinter, a member of the Flemish regional parliament and one of the leaders of the Flemish-secessionist Vlaams Belang, which is the largest party in Belgium. They demand that Dewinter be convicted for “incitement to racist hatred” and that his party be deprived of its funding. In Belgium, political parties are almost entirely government-funded, as accepting private donations is mostly illegal.
The reason for the complaint is an interview which Dewinter says he recently gave to the New York magazine Jewish Week (and which he put on his website). When asked whether he espoused xenophobia, Dewinter replied:
“Xenophobia” is not the word I would use. If it absolutely must be a “phobia” let it be “islamophobia”. Yes, we’re afraid of Islam. The islamisation of Europe is a frightening thing. Even distinguished Jewish scholars as Bat Ye’or and Bernard Lewis warned for this. If this historical process continues, the Jews will be the first victims. Europe will become as dangerous for them as Egypt or Algeria.
The fact that Dewinter used the word “islamophobia” has outraged the Belgian media, since xenophobia (and islamophobia) is a criminal offense. Under Belgium’s very broad Anti-Racism Act of 1981, racial discrimination is defined as “each form of distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference, which has or may have as its aim or consequence that the recognition, the enjoyment or exercise on an equal footing of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social or cultural sphere or in other areas of social life, is destroyed, affected or restricted.”
Contrary to the European anti-discrimination treaties, the Belgian bill not only prohibits distinctions that have restrictions as their aim or consequence, but also distinctions that may have these restrictions â€“ or even simply effects â€“ as their consequence. Anyone who describes himself as an “islamophobe” is pronouncing a preference which may have as its consequence that the enjoyment of a freedom in an area of social life be affected. Moreover, the Belgian Anti-Discrimination Act of 2003 reversed the onus of proof. The complainant does not need to prove that the accused “discriminates” or propagates “discrimination,” but it is up to the latter to prove that he does not. ~Paul Belien, The Brussels Journal
I have to congratulate Mr. Dewinter and his party on continuing to challenge the oppressive laws of the Belgian state. In spite of the fact that he probably knew he could be sued and his party defunded (again), he has not allowed tyrannical laws to cow or intimidate him from stating his quite reasonable opinions. Mr. Dewinter and the Vlaams Belang have our best wishes for defeating these scurrilous attacks and continuing to have success to determine the political fortunes of a Flanders that will one day, let’s hope, be independent and free.