Searchlight, February 2005
List Pim Fortuyn MP, Hilbrand Nawijn, who was minister for refugee policy for a mere eighty-seven days in 2002 is down to speak, on 25 January, at the extreme right-wing Vlaams Belang's New Year reception in Belgium.
This will mark the first time that a Dutch MP has flirted with the former Vlaams Blok. The theme of Nawijn's speech will be the situation in the Netherlands after the murder of Theo Van Gogh.
In the past, Vlaams Belang boss Philip Dewinter held meetings with the faction-plagued extreme right in the Netherlands in an attempt to bring them together but failed. Dewinter claims, however, that the late anti-immigrant populist, Pim Fortuyn, called him to suggest a meeting when the latter "was Prime Minister of the Dutch government".
Now Dewinter has issued a personal invitation to Nawijn after they met at the beginning of December in Rotterdam at a debate with students at the city's Erasmus University. During the debate Nawijn described a Belgian court's verdict that the Vlaams Belang's forerunner, the Vlaams Blok is "racist" as "scandalous". "We know them also here, those left-wing judges," he said.
For the then LPF leader, Mat Herben, contact with the Vlaams Blok was sufficient reason, in 2003, for the expulsion of Michiel Smit of NieuwRechts from the LPF. Since then, Smit has held regular meetings with Dewinter.
Nawijn also, it appears, sees no problem in having contacts with Vlaams Belang and is hoping for future co-operation for his new right party, probably with Geert Wilders. Justifying his relationship with the far- rightists, Nawijn claimed "You have to talk with everybody. I don't know what the Vlaams Belang used to be like, but I don't think they are racist now".
By Jeroen Bosch of Alert! and Antifa-Net in Utrecht