The United Nations and the European Commission have pinned down the Flanders region for linguistic 'discrimination'. In several reports published this week, both institutions express concern for the Flemish government's adoption of a 'wooncode', a housing code that reserves access to social housing for tenants who either speak Dutch, or commit to learning the language. For Martine Vandemeulebroucke, "the existence of linguistic discrimination and the emergence of racism between the country's two communities are taboo. And yet it exists. The long crisis ... has radicalised public opinion. The Mrax [Movement against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia] more accustomed to having to defend illegal immigrants or Moroccan and Turkish minorities, is beginning to receive complaints of racism between the Flemish and French speaking communities."The original can be read here in French.
The leading party in not only Flanders, but now also Belgium as a whole, after the recent elections is Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (New Flemish Alliance) which, amongst other measures, advocates within Flanders:
1. Preferential choice in schooling being given to Belgian families who have at least one Dutch-speaking parent.
2. Libraries being forced to stock at least 75% "Flemish" language books.
3. Having to prove "ties" to Flanders if you wish to buy a house or move into low-rent housing.
4. Blood donation sessions being only conducted amongst people who were mono-lingually Dutch (because, of course, Dutch-speaking blood is different to the French-speaking sort).
Whilst they can in no way be compared to the out and out racist headbangers of Vlaams Blok, their own self-description as being "centre-right civic nationalists" is seriously stretching it.
Which makes this invitation surprising (or maybe not):
A ROW has erupted after Plaid Cymru invited a senior politician from the controversial Flemish Nationalist party to speak at its annual conference.The defence offered by the Plaid spokesman is, well, not the most watertight I've heard; ie Labour votes with them in the European Parliament and:
Tomorrow MEP Frieda Brepoels will address Plaid delegates in Aberystwyth.
Her party Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliante (sic) (New Flemish Alliance), which became the biggest party in Belgium after a general election earlier this year, has been accused of promoting discriminatory policies in favour of Flemish speakers.
"It is ludicrous to suggest that the fact that an N-VA representative is attending Plaid’s conference means that we will be adopting their policies."Not really the point though is it?
You could invite Nick Griffin you have a word with the faithful without promising to adopt the BNP's policies- the fact he was invited in the first place is what would disturb people.
But OK, *if* Plaid Cymru are not in favour of the linguistic policies being adopted by the N-V A, a simple statement to that effect would help to kill off the controversy.