Belgium moves to ban burqas worn in public

“There is all-party public support for this,” says Leen Dierick, a conservative member of the Belgian parliament’s Interior Affairs committee that unanimously backed the proposed ban March 31. The initiative is expected become law in July and would apply to all public places, including streets.

Until now, it has been up to city governments in Belgium to crack down on burqa-style outfits. “Enforcement by local governments has been patchy,” says Mr. Dierick. “The point is public security, the need to show one’s face in public. Not religious freedom.” The proposed Belgian ban partly underscores how populist politicians across Europe are making a big imprint on attitudes and policies toward immigrants and minorities, especially Muslims.

Belgian lawmaker Filip Dewinter says mainstream politicians back a ban on burqa-type attire for fear of losing more ground to his far-right Flemish Interest party — a fringe factor 15 years but who today hold 17 of the 150 parliamentary seats.

Vlaams Belang carries out anti-mosque protest in Sint-Janswijk

About 250 protesters participated in an anti-mosque protest organized by Vlaams Belang in Sint-Janswijk. The right wing political party protested against the recognition of the Attakwa mosque in the neighborhood.

While the protest was mostly without incident, one person was arrested after trying to throw a jar of white paint on Vlaams Belang leader Filip Dewinter; the politician, who recently introduced his new book “Inshallah,” was not hurt. Dewinter’s book is a plea against what he calls the Islamization of Flanders.

Anger at Europe’s far right ‘anti-Islam’ conference

A German far right group has stirred Muslim anger worldwide by holding a three-day “Anti-Islamisation Conference” to protest against the construction of mosques and Muslim immigration. Prominent members of Europe’s far right, including French “Front National” leader Jean-Marie le Pen and Belgian far-right politician Filip Dewinter, have said they will attend the meeting in Cologne which is aimed at forging a European alliance against “Islamisation.” The conference will include a rally in the centre of Cologne tomorrow which police say could lead to clashes with left-wing groups that plan a counter-demonstration. Trade unions, churches and other groups have also announced plans to protest against the conference. The conference organiser is a local protest group called “Pro-Cologne” which campaigned against the city’s recent decision to allow the construction of a large new mosque with two 55-metre tall minarets. Around 330,000 immigrants live in Cologne, about a third of the city’s population. “Mosques are shooting out of the ground like mushrooms, the muezzin call and headscarves are flooding our streets,” Pro-Cologne said on its website. It said 150 “politicians and publicists” from all over Europe and 1,500 other participants will attend the conference at which it plans to launch a petition “against the Islamisation of our cities”. The meeting has drawn fierce criticism from German politicians and city leaders in Cologne. The premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Juergen Ruettgers, said: “Those who abuse the cosmopolitan and democratic city of Cologne as a meeting place for right-wing radicals are against tolerance, against reconciliation, against humanity.” David Crossland reports.

Vlaams Belang campaigning against halal in Flanders

In the next few weeks, Vlaams Belang plans to conduct a campaign to inform Flemish customers about the increasing supply of halal products. The campaign, which is utilizing the slogan Consumers against Islamization says that it does not support a boycott, but emphasized that the growth of a halal market may fit in with radicalist Islamic movements. Vlaams Belang is focusing on halal meat, citing the strict regulations are in line with anti-Western connotations of animal welfare. Halal butchers to not use anesthesia on animals, while Vlaams Belang member Filip Dewinter says that use of anesthesia is part of Western ethical norms regarding the welfare of the animal.

VB: “Stop Islamisation”

BRUSSELS – Extreme right wing Vlaams Belang is going to launch a campaign to “stop Islamisation,” first in Antwerp and later in other cities. The party is calling for a stop to the registration of newcomers in the city, a restriction on the number of mosques, and the expulsion of radical imams. VB faction leader in the Flemish Parliament Filip Dewinter says that Islam is pursuing a deliberate strategy to conquer Flemish cities. That is being done through increasing concentration, the formation of ghettos, and the refusal to integrate, he says. More and more native Belgians are leaving the cities and the government is making the situation worse, Dewinter says.