Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Brussels: the anti-Islamisation demo went ahead

Despite having been prohibited (and an appeal against the ban failing) the "anti-Islamisation" demo in Brussels on 11/9 (well, 9/11) went ahead as planned. Predictably, the unlawful demo led to clashes with the police (no doubt some of the protesters are very grateful for this expected turn of events which has drawn attention to their "plight").

Remains then the question whether the ban was really such a good idea, as in many quarters around the world it will confirm the ridiculous but tenacious stereotype of "Europe falling to Islam". This latter kind of nincompoopery is particularly popular among the far rightwing freedom-luvvin' cousins from across the pond, in particular those who haven't got the slightest clue regarding the modern European situation, or Europe's history.

All is not what it may seem regarding the "peaceful anti-Islamisation movement" in Belgium and I doubt if some of the foreign participants in this demo really understand how Flemish activists have been clamouring for a moratorium on North African immigration to little Belgium (as well as a return of legal immigrants to their former countries) since the early eighties (well before 9/11) and earlier than that. For what are practically former brownshirts like
"Flip" Dewinter (proud to be there, needless to say), a member of the disbanded Vlaams Blok (banned on the basis on Belgian anti-racism laws) and some others who can generally be considered Flemish separatists ("Flanders Flemish!" - and... white!), 9/11 and Radical Islam is simply gefundenes fressen, feeding their racist and bigoted agendas, let there be no doubt about this at all.

Nieuwsbank (Nl):
5 september 2007

The European Parliament Socialist Group today led international support for a ban by the Brussels authorities on an anti-Islam march on 9/11, the anniversary of terrorist plane attacks in the United States.

Group leader Martin Schulz wrote to the Mayor of Brussels, Freddy Thielemans, to support the ban on a demonstration entitled "Against the Islamisation of Europe".

In his letter, Mr Schulz says: "Like you, we are convinced that the people behind this demonstration want above all to stigmatise a community for dark racist and xenophobic reasons as is proven by the readiness to lump Islam together with fundamentalist terrorism."

Denouncing the organisers' attitude as "unacceptable", Mr Schulz declares that intercultural dialogue is the best way of dealing with the sources of fundamentalist terrorism. Policy should seek to encourage integration on the basis of mutual respect.

"The European project is founded on this philosophy and it is our duty to pursue this ideal, especially in this year of equality of opportunity and opposition to all forms of discrimination," writes Mr Schulz.

He adds: "Here in the European Parliament, we will fight vigorously against the extreme Right which is trying to using our institution as a platform for promoting this demonstration and contesting your decision."

From Terry Davies:
Statement by Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, on the march “Against the Islamisation of Europe” today in Brussels

Strasbourg, 11.09.2007 - European values are under threat, say the organisers of a protest march under the banner “Against the Islamisation of Europe” which was due to place today in Brussels in spite of the ban by the city Mayor. The fact is that Europe and its values are indeed under threat, but the danger is not coming from Islam. Our common European values are undermined by bigots and radicals, both islamists and islamophobes, who exploit fears and prejudice for their own political objectives.

The self-proclaimed defenders of European values say that the Mayor has violated their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. The freedom of assembly and the freedom of expression are indeed essential preconditions for democracy, but they should not be regarded as a licence to offend. I will not enter into the discussion about whether the march should have been allowed or not, but I note that the protesters’ reading of the Convention is selective to say the least. It is very important to remember that the freedom of assembly and expression can be restricted to protect the rights and freedoms of others, including the freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This applies to everyone in Europe including the millions of Europeans of Islamic faith, who were the main target of today’s shameful display of bigotry and intolerance.

My take on all this? It's unfortunate that a number of innocent but possibly rather naive protesters who simply wanted to express their concern with regards to what they see as the "Islamisation of Europe" weren't allowed to do so. But be in no doubt: many of the organisers had an agenda which is simply the extension of the same anti-immigration, racist and bigoted agenda that Vlaams Blok and other Flemish fringe groups have been pushing for decades prior to bin Laden and his brand of idiots. Belgium once lived under fascist occupation for four long years and a small but not inconsiderable slice of the Flemish population decided during that period to hedge their bets with the Nazi occupiers. Many rightwing Flemish activists are the political legacy of those who so fatally chose the wrong side in the fight against Nazism. Belgium will no longer stand for this kind of thing. Without taking this important but internationally perhaps little known fact seriously into account, it's impossible to judge the decision to ban this "peaceful" demonstration as nothing but a rightful manifestation of fear of a return to Belgium's (and Flanders') darker past.

And those who believe the banning of this anti-Islamisation demo was an example of "Dhimmification" of Europe should realise that they're essentially siding with the remnants of Flemish Fascism. Charming...


At 4:29 AM, Blogger Frank Partisan said...

Really good post.

The idea that Europe will fall to Islamism, is nuts. The anti-immigrant movement, is just code for racism.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Thanks, Ren!


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