“The Huns are back, and they speak English"In Belgium, "xenophobia" is the worst of crimes. Unless it is directed against Anglo-Saxons, of course:
Brussels Paper: “Why We Hate the British”
“The Huns are back, and they speak English with a variety of invariably common accents. No other nation manages to spoil other people’s holidays so thoroughly as the British. They do that all through the summer everywhere the sun shines with their unique mixture of wantonness and arrogance, their pathetic addiction to drink, their bad taste, and actually just their ugliness and thickheaded presence. There, that is a relief. “Luckily it is easy to recognise a Brit on holiday. A clean shaven head with a much too big and cheap pair of sunglasses; a sunburnt bull’s neck; a set of disgusting tattoos across his torso if it is not covered with a football shirt of Manchester United, Chelsea or Celtic Glasgow; a half liter of beer always on hand. The lady in the company divides her attention between the whining children and the curtain that she got mixed up with the tops in her wardrobe while packing."
I had a discussion once with a person who claimed that the Vlaams Blok, now Vlaams Belang, was similar to Norway's Progress Party. I'm not quite sure, as I believe it is really does contain some extremist elements. Belgium, with its deep divide between its French and Dutch speaking communities, is still a special case. Nevertheless, I find it scary that one of the largest political parties in what is supposed to be a democratic nation can be banned on such seemingly flimsy grounds:
Last year Belgium’s biggest party, the Vlaams Blok, was effectively banned by a Belgian court. The court ruled that the party was “racist” and as a consequence, according to article 3 of Belgium’s infamous Anti-Racism Act, everyone “belonging” to the party or “cooperating” with it is punishable with imprisonment for one month to one year. After being disbanded the Vlaams Blok politicians established a new party, the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest). To prove the “racism” of the Vlaams Blok the Belgian court quoted from 16 texts published by the party between 1996 and 2000. Though many of these texts were, as the judges acknowledged, not necessarily untrue (in fact some were official statistics on crime rates and social welfare expenditure), the court ruled that they had been published with “an intention to contribute to a campaign of hatred.” One of the texts, which dealt with the position of women in fundamentalist muslim societies, was written by a female Turkish-born VB member from Aalst who had herself been raised in such an environment. The court said the party published this story “not to inform the public about the position of women in the islamic world, but to depict [non-indigenous people] as unethical and barbarian.” Moreover, the court said, the VB always talked about Muslims in “generalising” terms. The Belgian court did not clarify how one can be a criminal by telling people the truth, but that hardly mattered as the real reason why the party had to be banned was political.
What scares me with this is that the Norwegian parliament, in April 2005 passed a new Discrimination Act. The act says in pretty clear words that in cases of suspected direct or indirect discrimination due to religion or ethnicity, Norwegians are guilty until proven otherwise. Here's what the leader of our "Conservative" party, Integration Minister Erna Solberg, had to say about this act last year:
Minister urges anti-discrimination law
Erna Solberg, the cabinet minister in charge of local government and immigration, is proposing a new law forbidding discrimination on ethnic or religious grounds. The law would cover everything from the workplace to the housing market. Solberg's proposal would toughen the law, and also require those charged to mount proof of their innocence.
This law will be in effect starting from January 2006. Legislation against "racist or discriminatory speech", including on the Internet, will also be beefed up. Will I be a criminal next year for criticizing Muslim immigration on this blog?