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“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Belgium

Belgium’s Easy Accommodation With The Far Right.

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I vaguely remember reading something about this a few weeks back, but it didn’t register, thankfully this Guardian piece reveals how Belgium’s politicians have sunk to a new low, with the sole exception of the Greens.

Politicians have agreed with the Far Right’s attempt to organise an amnesty for collaborators during the Nazi occupation of WW2:

“On 12 May, the 333rd day of Belgium’s political crisis, all the mainstream Flemish parties, apart from the Greens, supported a motion by the far-right Vlaams Belang party advocating an amnesty for those who collaborated with the Nazi occupation in 1940-45. The bill suggests effacing all the effects of “sentences and sanctions inflicted on the grounds of alleged breaches of public loyalty”. It proposes compensation for “financial prejudice” suffered by “victims of postwar repression or their descendants”.

Flemish-speaking far-right parties have been battling for almost 20 years for an amnesty. Until now all the proposals by Vlaams Belang, which is largely isolated, have failed. But when the Flemish Social-Democrats (SP.a) decided to endorse the proposal it opened the way for the Flemish majority in the upper house to authorise a debate. Parliament had previously refused to entertain the idea. “In these difficult times it is particularly worrying that this rule should have been broken,” said Philippe Mahoux, a Walloon Socialist (PS) party senator. “It is a major obstacle in the path of those who want to establish stable government,” said Francis Delpérée, a member of the centrist CDH party.

Armed collaboration with Germany involved roughly equal numbers from the Walloon and Flemish communities, but political collaboration was more extensive in Flanders. where the Nazis awarded privileges such as releasing prisoners of war and placing militants of the Vlaams Nationaal Verbond, a nationalist pro-collaboration party, in positions of authority in Flemish localities, according to the writer Charles Bricman. In 1943 about 2,000 collaborators enrolled in the Walloon Legion, almost 3,000 in its Flemish counterpart. Nearly 14,000 Belgians fought in the Wehrmacht under German colours. The move looks like a warning to French-speaking politicians suspected of holding up negotiations to end the political stalemate. It might even herald a repeat of the events of 2007, when in the course of committee proceedings in parliament the Flemish majority unanimously voted to split the bilingual Brussels-Hal-Vilvorde district. “

Small wonder people have such a low opinion of politicians, they can’t even stand up and say no to the rehabilitation of WW2 fascists.

Update 1: The Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance in Belgium has more on the country’s Far Right:

“The Vlaams Nationaal Verbond (VNV) (Flemish National Alliance) was constituted in 1933 and was a radicalisation of the Frontpartij (Front Party). The language question and the demands for Flemish independence formed the basis of their manifesto. The catholics were also represented in this party, however the clergy, who were monarchists, found it difficult to accept the anti-Belgium attitude of the VNV.

The leader of the VNV, Staf de Clercq (d. 1942), gained the electoral support of the middle class and the agricultural community, groups, in fact, who had constantly suffered during the crisis. From the election results it can be seen that the VNV experienced constant growth during the 1930’s.

REX grew from the French speaking catholic circles at the University of Louvain. This party did not have any clear cut political agenda. REX and its leader, Léon Degrelle, drew support from the public’s abhorrence for political and financial scandals.

With the slogan “100% catholic” REX was able to take advantage of the fact that a number of important leaders of the catholic party were suspected of corruption. In the 1936 elections they won 21 seats.”

France, Nativism And A Piece Of Cloth.

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I am not a fan of the Niqab or Burka, but then again I am against enforcing specific dress codes, to wear something or not to wear something.

I argued some time ago on this very topic at Zword, but reconsidering some of those arguments I think there is a better way of looking at it, a simpler way. In the grand scheme of things, how important is it, really? In my view, not much.

When you think of France, with all its numerous social problems, economic ills and political difficulties, would you think that a piece of cloth is the biggest problem that they face?

And does it become a bigger issue when worn by women, in strategic places ?

I suspect most intelligent readers will say, no.

Clearly, there is plenty of historical material on secularism in France, and anyone familiar with the French Revolution would know why, but the contemporary debate in France owes more to the political manoeuvrings of politicians and the influence of the Far Right.

Xenophobia has long been a problem in Europe with its major manifestations in the 1930s and 40s.

More recently we can see increased racial attacks and violence again Roma across European countries, including France and then the spectre of nativism raises its ugly head, where those wearing unapproved fashions are now attacked.

The Far Right’s influence can be seen all over these measures, along with Nicolas Sarkozy’s fingerprints as he panders to French nativism in the hope of electoral success.

Enforced dress codes must be rejected, whether in Saudi Arabia, the Taliban’s old Afghanistan or France.

France has many serious problems and they do not come down to bits of cloth worn by women.

The real problems and social ills in France should be dealt with, and it does not help women in anyway to fine them for not wearing the approved range of clothes.

So in Europe let us be serious, deal with the real problems, infrastructure, social inequalities, decent wages, good pension, a solid welfare state and the stark divisions between rich and poor, and not these panicky measure which only increase racial tension and help the Far Right.

Update 1: Previous posts on the topic, Stigmatising Dress Codes.

Pandering To Prejudice In France.

Written by modernityblog

11/04/2011 at 17:23

Stigmatising Dress Codes.

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Sadly, I haven’t got time to do a long post on this topic.

According to the BBC, the lower house in Belgium’s parliament has passed a provisional piece of legislation on the banning of the Burka and Niqab.

This is a very bad proposal, which I believe will have to go through the upper house and finally be ratified by the Belgian King, before becoming law

Ages ago I detailed my opposition to this type of proposal in a post at the Z-word blog.

I suspect that the law of unintended consequences will come into this, it will probably blow up, literally, and its political ramifications felt widely across the globe.

What a terrible mistake.

Although I haven’t seen the voting figures it wouldn’t surprise me if the Flemish Far Right had a hand in this too.

Update 1: From the above BBC link,

“Only around 30 women wear this kind of veil in Belgium, out of a Muslim population of around half a million.”

30 women and a whole law against them, not a good idea.

Written by modernityblog

30/04/2010 at 00:44