[Marxism] In Belgium, the far-right Vlaams Blok is outlawed by the courts
andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Thu Nov 11 01:17:17 MST 2004
On Tuesday 9 November, Belgium's supreme court upheld the ruling that the
far right Flemish Vlaams Blok party does indeed break the country's
anti-racism laws. The court case was initiated five years ago by the Center
for Equal Opportunities and the Prevention of Racism, a government agency
under direct supervision of the Prime Minister's office, and by the Belgian
Human Rights League.
On 29 June 2001, the Brussels penal court had refused to issue a verdict,
pleading non-competence. The judge, Mr. Vernimmen, ruled that the case was
outside the jurisdiction of his court, as in his view the issue concerned a
political offence. After this first verdict, the case came before the
Brussels Court of Appeal, which in February 2003 reaffirmed the previous
ruling of non-competence. On 18 November 2003, Belgium's supreme court, the
Cour de Cassation, consisting of an equal number of Flemings and Walloons,
overruled the ruling of the Brussels Court of Appeal and ordered the case to
be brought before the Court of Appeal in Ghent. Judges in Belgium are
The Ghent court ruled in April 2004 that three non-profit organisations
which form the backbone of the Vlaams Blok were guilty of discrimination and
branding foreigners as scapegoats. This ruling meant that, in principle,
anybody collaborating with the party could from then on be prosecuted for
racism, including e.g. the postal service delivering party literature, and
owners of halls who rent them out for party meetings.
A decade ago, Belgium voted for a law restricting the private financing of
political parties. The law made it illegal for politicians and parties to
accept donations from companies or donations of more than about US$160 from
private individuals. Since that time, political parties represented in
Parliament receive state subsidies through non-profit organisations, which
they are required to establish for this purpose.
The Vlaams Blok itself finally appealed to the supreme court to take a
decision on legality of the April ruling, claiming that the Ghent court was
wrong to brand it racist. But on Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected all 21
of the far-right party's arguments, and upheld the Ghent ruling. "Now a
definite line had been drawn where free expression ends and discrimibation
begins", the Centre's lawyer, Raf Verstraeten, claims. "Free speech is
guaranteed, but may not be the cause of systematic provocation of hate or
This decision means in practice that several non-profit groups linked to the
party will have to pay hefty fines handed out in April, and that the Blok
will lose state funding worth around a quarter of a million euros. Racist
parties are not allowed to receive government money in Belgium.
The Vlaams Blok reacted angrily to the news, and said it would just
re-invent itself under a new name in order to get around the verdict.
"Today, our party has been killed, not by the electorate but by the judges,"
Vlaams Blok leader Frank Vanhecke said. "We will establish a new party. This
one Belgium will not be able to bury; it will bury Belgium." He reaffirmed
his party's desire to see Flanders split from Belgium and become an
Party leader Filip Dewinter referred to the murder of Theo van Gogh, stating
"In the Netherlands a man has been silenced with bullets, in Belgium a party
with a million voters is muffed through arrestation by the courts. The
Belgian method is more perfidious and effective."
The Vlaams Blok says that it will rename itself "Vlaams Blok+" or "Vlaams
Belang" (The Flemish Interest). Although it will no longer publicly advocate
the wholesale expulsion of non-white immigrants, the Vlaams Blok has pledged
to push on regardless with its campaign against immigration, and to demand
Flemish independence. On Sunday, Vlaams Blok will hold a refoundation
congress, vote on new statutes and adopt a new name.
Dewinter expects that the party will become "stronger, better and more
powerful". He said, "It's a manicure. The lion will sharpen its claws." The
other parties, which exclude the Vlaams Blok through a "cordon sanitaire",
reject any co-operation with the far right party. It seems likely that there
will be more court cases in the future.
Jurriaan (from press reports)
More information about the Marxism