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The unfortunate acquaintances of Vlaams Belang

A star member of the Flemish far right breaks health rules to demonstrate in Paris alongside the Identitaires.

Max HELLEFF

A star member of the Flemish far right breaks health rules to demonstrate in Paris alongside the Identitaires.

From our correspondent Max HELLEFF (Brussels) – The photo quickly made the rounds on social networks. We see Vlaams Belang deputy Dries Van Langenhove among demonstrators gathered on Saturday in Paris around the far-right group Identity generation. This group is threatened with dissolution by the French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin who said he was “scandalized” by an anti-migrant operation in the Pyrenees.

Demonstrating is a democratic right. On the other hand, crossing borders for a deemed non-essential trip contravenes the containment measures decreed by the Belgian authorities. This is the rule, at least as long as Belgium does not comply with the European Commission’s request to loosen the grip.

The case went directly to the Minister of the Interior, the Christian Democrat Annelies Verlinden. The latter considered that participation in a demonstration abroad is not strictly speaking an “essential” reason. As elected, the federal deputy Dries Van Langenhove should on the contrary set an example, reacted the minister via her spokesperson.

Sunday, the prosecution announced the opening of an investigation. Dries Van Langenhove said for his part that he was placing himself in quarantine “to reassure those who are worried”. He risks a fine of 250 euros.

This Parisian trip would only be one more milestone to add to the vast network of friendships that Vlaams Belang has forged with other European extreme right-wingers (from Haider to Le Pen to Geert Wilders) if it is not was held in the context of normalization in which the first Belgian political party claims to register. The Belang indeed seeks to respectability in favor of the health crisis to finally climb the highest levels of power.

Parliamentary immunity

Today, they are prohibited because of the cordon sanitaire stretched by the so-called democratic parties. They fear like the plague this political formation born out of collaboration with the German occupier and which has sworn in the past to end Belgium in favor of an independent Flanders.

Far from putting himself on the sidelines of this strategy, Dries Van Langenhove confined himself this weekend to explaining that as a deputy he has “a series of duties to fulfill”. Problem: Van Langenhove can be seen in photos of the identity demonstration, alongside other protesters, with a sweater bearing the “Schild & Vrienden” logo. Schild (shield) and Vriend (friend) are two key words in Flemish nationalist mythology. In 1302, during the Bruges Matins, those who could not pronounce them properly were executed without further trial by the Flemish militias, because they were suspected of being supporters of the King of France.

But Schild & Vrienden is also the name of an extreme right-wing association created in 2017 by Dries Van Langenhove, then a law student. The organization presents itself as a “right-wing, conservative and Flemish nationalist” youth movement. But she also relayed thousands of messages flirting with racism and anti-Semitism.

The public prosecutor opened an investigation. Today, he intends to prosecute nine suspects. On January 21, the Attorney General requested the lifting of parliamentary immunity of Dries Van Langenhove. According to the Flemish daily From Morgen, he is suspected of inciting discrimination, hatred and violence, disseminating ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, and belonging to or collaborating with a group that advocates discrimination or segregation . All these facts punishable by the Moureau law of 1981.


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