by Elco B
Mon May 22nd, 2006 at 03:47:48 AM EST
(comment promoted by DoDo)
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|Sat. 20 may 2006 Bomako (Mali) : funeral of Oulematou Niangadou (24) attended by more than 1000 people inclusive premier Ousmane Issoufi Maïga.||Wen.17 may Antwerp (Belgium) : Funeral of 2 year old Luna attended by more than 1000 people: politicians were asked by the parents to stay away.|
The facts which led to these funerals:
- On 11 May, a young man (18) enters a shop in Antwerp (Belgium). He buys a hunting riffle with 15 shells.
- With the riffle, 'holding it like a cowboy' as a witness recalls, he enters one of the center streets of the city.
- From 5m he shoots a woman in the back; the woman of Turkish origin was sitting near a park reading Flemish poetry (!) to learn more of the Flemish language.
- The young man walks calmly further in the street, from only a few meters away, he shoots a black woman and a white child she had with her, both died immediately.
- An alert and courageous policeman goes in direct confrontation with the shooter and can shoot him down with his pistol.
The Turkish woman, severly wounded, survives.
The shooter also survives.
The day after it becomes clear the young man was still at school, but sent away this day because of smoking.
He is raised in a family with close ties to the 'Vlaams Belang' (Flemish Interest) party: a ultra-right-wing political party: French Le Pen is a close friend and was, only weeks ago, invited on one of their party reunions.
These murders are now called 'racist murders' all over the Flemish press -- this is the first time we see this so clearly mentioned: racist murders!
A first interrogation of the shooter confirmed this: he was out to shoot people 'not belonging' in Flanders.
The shock and abomination was enormous and still is today as more details emerge of the involved people. In a national TV debate, even the mayor of Antwerp (900.000 inhabitants) couldn't hold back his tears.
Of course the fact that the 2 year old Luna was a white Flemish girl made it all worse but also the story of the 'au pair' Oulematou Niangadou was heart-breaking.
She intended to work in Belgium for another year to support her family in Mali. She was pregnant and wanted to go back to Mali after she had her baby born. Everything was arranged for by the Flemish family she worked for. She already had a child staying with her family in Mali.
There are a lot more details to tell about all those involved people but something else happened in Flanders: kind of an awakening, people taking openly a stand. Even all papers this weekend, 10 days after the murders, have several pages related to racism, integration, xenophobia, political responsibility, education, even society in general.
Belgium is a kind of federal structured monarchy. The big lines:
Belgium is a federal state
consisting of three regions: Flanders in the north where the official language is Flamish (= Dutch); Wallonia in the south where French is the official language and Brussels, the capital, where French and Dutch share official language status. There is also a small German-speaking minority of some 70,000 in Wallonia.
The regions enjoy a wide degree of autonomy, particularly in the educational and cultural spheres. This was extended under the 1993 constitution.
The political situation in Flanders differs drastically from that in Wallonia.
The 'Vlaams Belang' party had its first big success in the local elections 24 November 1991. That day is still called 'The First Black Sunday' by democrats.
Since then, this Flemish-nationalist party grew with every election, local and regional. Their most well-known slogan is "OWN PEOPLE FIRST!" (EIGEN VOLK EERST!).
Side note:This slogan is forbidden in the Netherlands since it is considered racist and thus unlawful.
Other parties got scared: they were losing seats in the local councils, regional and national parliaments every election. So some thought they could regain electional success by 'adopting' the points of view of the 'Vlaams Belang'. But, of course, as we see elsewere, people mostly go for the original.
For instance in Antwerp, the largest city of Flanders, the 'Vlaams Belang' grew to 33% of the votes, wich made them the biggest political formation. Normally this allows a party to delegate the city mayor and the most important council posts, but in Flanders, we have a exceptional political agreement among all other parties: it is called 'Cordon Sanitaire'.
In Flanders an agreement was made after the first "Black Sunday" in 1991 between ALL other parties NOT to cooperate, nor form coalitions with 'Vlaams Belang', since the major part of their program is considered contrary to the European declaration of human rights.
This agreement still holds today, even at local level.
So we have a situation in Flanders were a ultra-nationalist-racist party is isolated from any executive power and pushed back in the opposition banks. But their agenda was putting a tremendous pressure on the other parties, supported by their electoral success. The racist ideas became more or less a 'common good' and only a few politicians had the guts to counter this directly.
But now with this new fact the discussion is heating way up and finally, at last, more politicians have less fear to speak out clearly, going in direct confrontation with the 'Vlaams Belang' and their racist agenda.
In October, there will be local elections in Belgium. and especially in Antwerp, every democrat is anxious for what the results will be.
The murders of 11 May were not the only such acts. Only in the last month, there were 4 'racist inspired' incidents that made the national press. One of them: a Flemish boy was going home after a party with his French (black) friend. They were attacked by a group of right-wing men. The French boy is still in hospital.
There is hope finally:
|LUNA: the murdered girl. This picture is known now everywhere in Flanders.|
| Poster of the 'Vlaams Belang' party -- reads: Safe-Flemish-Livable. This poster was published a day after the murders.|
Hours after the publication of the poster, Luna's parents made a first public declaration: they hold the political party 'Vlaams Belang' and their ideology responsible for what happened and demanded the withdrawal of this poster. In the following hours several politicians also made statements about how disgusting they found this poster and not acceptable at all.
The poster vanished, and the party is now avoiding every press contact as much they can.
The national Minister of foreign affairs, De Gucht, made a very strong statement, on several occasions for press, radio and TV:
The voters for the 'Vlaams Belang' party are also responsible for the climate for the murders in Antwerp. If you vote for that party you are also responsible for what that party provokes in society.
Woman in the street to a reporter:
People now say a 'goodday' again in the street, like we suddenly understood we need each other, that it is no good to retreat in your own, small world.
Former Mayor of Antwerp, Leona Detiège:
What gives me hope is that more people who do not agree with the ideology of the 'Vlaams Belang' now dare to say so.
The grandma of Luna during the funeral:
There is an ideology wich made this cruelty possible......love is needed, and a whole lot of it to restore the balance...
A man on the funeral of Oulematou Niangadou in Mali to a Flemish reporter:
What kind of country do you live in??? Here in Mali we don't shoot at whites!
A Flemish lawyer:
The richer we get, the more anxious we get. Exploiting this fear politically is ethically irresponsible.
In the weekend edition of one of the major papers there is a full page statement, signed by hundreds of university, media and cultural organisations. Title:
Racism is a collective responsibility.