Right wing violence in Flanders

At 6 May 2006 3 boneheads in Brugge beat up two young men. The victims were passing by the notorious skinheadpub De Kastelein, who were having a wedding party, when they were attacked. One of the victims, a black man with Gabon origins, was so heavily hit, that he fell into coma. His white friend also suffered severe injuries and was taken to hospital as well. Earlier that night 5 boneheads paid a visit, armed with knuckle busters to an active antifascist in Brugge, but failed to beat him up. Half an hour later 5 boneheads were arrested for the assault on the two young men. Two of them are released the same night, but accused of failing to help the victims, as they arrived on the scene of the crime later, but let the victims bleed.

This event occurred one month after Belgium was in shock after the murder on Joe van Holsbeeck in Brussels; he was murdered for his MP3-player. CCTV-footage showed boys from Moroccan origin hanging around, and Belgium burst out into a rage of racist debates about the violence and racism of Moroccan youngsters. Later it appeared that 3 Polish migrants killed van Holsbeeck and Belgium media and politics looked ashamed.

At 11 May in the morning teenager Hans van Themsche buys a shotgun and 20 bullets in a store in Antwerp and goes out to shoot, as he later declares 'as much foreigners as possible'. First he shoot a Turkish woman, who was sitting on a bench in a park, reading a book. She is severely wounded in the chest, but survives. Than he kills a woman from Mali, who is baby-sitting a two year old child from Belgian origin. The child also dies. Van Themsche looks for a 'suicide by cops' but the police shoot him in the belly and he is arrested alive. On 23 May a special squad from the police arrests an 18-year old boy from the same school as van Themsche, who was hiding with a shotgun nearby a school in the town of Kortrijk.

Hans van Themsche is the cousin of Vlaams Belang parliamentarian Frieda van Themsche, his grandfather fought together with his brother for the nazis on the Eastern Front, 'against communism and for Flanders'. The family van Themsche was raised in the traditional principals of the current Vlaams Belang; xenofobe, racist, ultranationalist, superior. No activists, but still. Prime minister Guy Verhofstadt calls the Vlaams Belang 'morally responsible' for these killings, after years of preaching Flemish superiority and blaming all problems on society on migrants.

How did this boy come to his act? After the riots in the suburbs of Paris at the end of last year Vlaams Belang country wide distributed a leaflet saying 'The catastrophe to come' with a burning car on the cover. Later Vlaams Belang aces went to Marocco to give the message to would be immigrants that Belgium is not the land of 'milk and honey' and that they should stay were they are. One month before the fatal killings Vlaams Belang topman Philip Dewinter says on a meeting about security 'Multiculturalism leads to multicriminalism' and 'The hunt on whoever who is not Arab, Islamist or foreigner is in some areas already open. We are sick and tired to be hunted and instead of being afraid the rest of our lives, it is better to become forester'.

Vlaams Belang declares after the killings that there is no place for neonazis in the party but face new prosecution after their predecessor Vlaams Blok was banned in 2004. But Vlaams Belang needs no neonazis to bring about their racism and right wing populism; the party is the biggest in Flanders and will grow again in next years elections. With its populist mix of narrow-minded nationalism, racism, their underdog position through the boycott of other parties, their aggressive style of campaigning, they remain very popular among Flander inhabitants.

Other Belgian parties are now trying to withhold the state-subsidies that Vlaams Belang is receiving. Vlaams Belang has 61 parliamentarians (32 in the Flemish parliament, 18 in the Chamber, 8 in the Senate and 3 in the European Parliament), all of them pay 15% of their income to the party and these parliamentarians get also subsidies for their work apart from their wages and alltogether that is 5, 6 million euro.

And they didn't change their program after being banned by court for 'systematically putting people up to racial hate, race separation and hate'. Still the party worships war criminals from the Flemish SS as Jef Francois, lets anti-Semites as Roeland Raes in high positions in the party, rolls into bed with fascist organizations as Voorpost and recruits from the racist student organisation NSV. Hopefully these shocking incidents of the last months will open the eyes of the Flanders.

Jeroen Bosch