Unizo, the Flemish small business association, has called for workers across the European Union to be given access to jobs in the Belgian labor market. Citing a shortage of workers, the association also states that the number of job vacancies in Flanders is twice the number of job seekers. Unizo favors giving illegal immigrants who have integrated into Belgian society the right to legally work in the country.
Ghent, Belgium’s third largest city, has banned employees from wearing Muslims headscarves and other religious or political symbols. The ban was proposed by the Flemish liberal party, and approved by the city council. All city personnel such as librarians, child care workers, and such will not be allowed to wear such garments if they come into contact with the public.
Flemish Sport Minister Bert Anciaux is calling upon the chairman of Football Club Brussels, Johan Vermeersch, to implement an anti-racism policy. Anciaux believes that this is the only way that Vermeersch can make up for his insensitive remarks. Vermeersch is accused of telling a Congolese player that he should go climb a tree and eat a bunch of bananas – he has since apologized.
Starting in November, the Flemish job agency VDAB will visit unemployed immigrants and minorities in their home to help find them jobs and reduce unemployment among minorities. According to VDAB, one in six unemployed persons in Belgium is of ethnic background.
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.
BRUSSELS – Opposition party right-wing Vlaams Belang will be given access to the applications submitted by mosques for recognition by the Flemish government. The Internal Administration Agency had refused to release the documents, but this refusal is unjustified, says the appeal agency for freedom of information. Islam has been one of the six recognised religions in Belgium since 1974, but in contrast to other local religious communities, like churches and synagogues, mosques were not given subsidies until now. Flemish minister for integration Marino Keulen (Open Vld) wants to officially recognise the first mosques before the end of this year. Vlaams Belang requested access to the application files from eight mosques, but the Internal Administration Agency would not release the files, arguing that they were not yet complete and that the Flemish government had not yet taken a decision on the applications.
BRUSSELS – More and more Muslims are refusing to allow a male gynaecologist to attend at their wives’ deliveries, says the head of gynaecology at the Brussels University Hospital VUB and the Ghent University Hospital. Various newspapers have reported on the problem. The Flemish Association of Gynaecologists are urging for a strict, uniform policy in all hospitals. The phenomenon is common particularly in cities with a large immigrant population. The Flemish Association for Obstetrics and Gynaecology (VVOG) acknowledges the problem and urges a strict attitude. “In my own hospital every patient that absolutely insists on a woman doctor is discharged from the hospital immediately,” explains Johan Van Wiemeersch at the Sint-Augustinus in Wilrijk. “As an association of gynaecologists we are urging that these same strict regulations be in place in all maternity wards.”
Foreigners living in Belgium have been given the right to vote in the country’s local elections, whatever their nationality. The Belgian Parliament’s approval of the new voting law, marks the end of a long and often bitter debate that once again saw the country divided along linguistic lines. The country’s French speaking political parties carried the vote. Only one party from Dutch-speaking Flanders – the minority Flemish Socialist Party (SP.A) – voted in favour of the planned new rules. It is estimated that around 120 000 people are to contribute from the new regulations.