Monday, June 23, 2008

Belgian Battleground

Police collided with two gangs hell-bent on violent warfare on the streets of the Belgian municipality of Anderlecht, the Western-most municipality of Brussels, capital of the EU. The story of the Anderlecht riots is from late May of this year, and it’s still generating occasional headlines in the Belgian press.

What follows is a series of loose translations of French-language media accounts covering developing angles to the story.

The initial report, as carried in the Belgian news source 7sur7:

The situation started deteriorating around 8:30 pm. The police were between a group of "youths of foreign origin" [later specified later in their reporting as "youths of north-african origin"] and "fans of the Anderlecht soccer team".

Charges by police officers mounted on horseback managed to keep the two hostile groups far apart from each other. The "youths of foreign origin" started throwing stones at the police, wounding at least one of them. A bus shelter was destroyed, several cars were damaged and store windows shattered.

The article says that, on Thursday, an (unspecified) blog carried a call for violence, inciting the "youths of foreign origin" to take on the "white supporters" of the Anderlecht team. This call to battle was set off by a fight that took place the Sunday before, on May 18, following an Anderlecht soccer game.

A later account adds that police made no less than 193 arrests that Friday night. Four of the individuals arrested were carrying baseball bats, which the article describes as "prohibited weapons". 14 police officers were injured throughout that evening. All were hospitalized, two with serious wounds.

A French-language news video showing the scale of the urban warfare, here:

The next day, Gaƫtan Van Goidsenhoven, mayor ["burgomaster"] of Anderlecht passed an ordinance prohibiting a gathering of more than 5 persons within the territory of the municipality.

The following Friday (May 30), police arrested another 100 persons "pre-emptively" in Anderlecht. Most of them were minors, and were not from the local community. Some had already been arrested during the violence of the week before, and evidently released in the interim.

Some of the individuals arrested were carrying bladed weapons. Police also found two molotov cocktails among the arrested.

The police later issued a requisition order aimed at local media, asking that press and television sources give them images and video taken during the violent night, whether or not it had been aired or published. The General Association of professional Belgian journalists (AGJPB) have asked Belgian media to not cooperate with this demand.

According to the association, this requisition "illustrates the lack of respect for the function of media to inform in total independence." Giving over the material "would place journalists in an auxiliary position to the police and would put [the journalists] in danger -- whether they are before the camera or editors -- as soon as they would cover events on the ground."

The AGJBP further states that "the judicial preoccupation with identifying persons involved in the Anderlecht riots does not weigh sufficiently in regards to the interests at stake in relation to freedom of the press."

They add that "nothing is stopping the authorities from gaining information from the images that the media have already themselves broadcast or published."

Heavy police presence on weekends since the initial clash have kept things tense, but calm. Tensions are not being helped by waves of false rumors, claiming that attacks have happened or are about to happen, rumors designed to spark off new riots.

This past weekend, over 350 people participated in a "Mothers March" through the streets of Anderlecht. The marchers walked behind a banner which said "Let's talk for respect and tolerance".

One of the organizers said: "It's important to talk with everybody. The residents have a role to play to keep similar incidents from happening again. We must make an attempt for each to express themselves in words and not in stones. There is no malaise in particular in Anderlecht. But once in a while we recognize difficulties here as in all the large cities where several cultures co-exist."

Deputy Mayor Fabrice Cumps, participating in the march, said "We want to show today what unites us rather than what divides us. The future of Anderlecht and of Brussels more generally is this multiculturalism. We must live together in respect."

(Some googling reveals that I'm hardly posting a "scoop" with this story. It was news to me when I came across it in my recent French media readings, however, so I'm hoping that for some of our readers this is news for you, as well.)

UPDATE: Esther at the European blog Islam in Europe has some further details on the Anderlecht riots and their aftermath, translated into English from Dutch news sources.
Also, the Brussels Journal provides yet more background on the Belgian riots.
As well, it's fitting that I humbly link back to an earlier Covenant Zone post on an additional problem on top of all the others connected with this story: Belgian prisons have little room for these hundreds of arrested juvenile delinquents.


Findalis said...

I've given up on Belgium. They have accepted their Dhimmitude. The Muslims have a free reign in the nation. They can riot, murder and rape and nobody will do a thing against them.

Charles Henry said...

The online version of European newspapers have comments sections accompanying their stories, and you'd feel differently, Findalis, after reading many of those comments.

There are still people in Belgium, in France, in the UK, and elsewhere in Western Europe that are worth our help.

We are lucky to even have a few drop by at Covenant Zone every so often, as commentors here.

The language barriers do much to keep us all from hearing of each other, of finding each other, and consequently of believing in the very existence of each other..! But Good people still struggle there, against a very strong tide, and they can use all the encouragement that they can get.

Eowyn said...

You know, bullies have abounded in every civilization since time began. Isn't it time we stood up to them?

Some cultures -- and I'm putting Belgian into this one -- cave. Others don't. As Charles Henry said, the fact that at least SOME people speak out against it, is proof it has resistance.

P.S. to Findalis -- please don't be offended, but as a journalist, I must correct "free reign" to its proper form -- "free rein" -- referring to the now-forgotten practice of giving a horse his head, i.e. "free REIN" (the actual piece of tack dedicated to directing a horse's head). I know, I know, the language is evolving. Doesn't mean I can't object when it's inadvertently misused :)

Findalis said...

I stand corrected. The trouble with Europe is that they will make noise in chatrooms and on message boards, but will not put anything into practice.

Just once I'd like to see a person actually defend their position against multiculturalism. And do it with gusto.

They have been effectively silenced by the elites and will stay that way.

Charles Henry said...

Findalis, how about the Belgian/Flemish political party, the Vlaams Belang? The VB are so opposed to the direction that Belgian drifts along, they are dedicated to separating the south from the north and starting their own separate Flemish nation.

They won over 700,000 votes in the last Belgian general election, an increase from the previous election, earning them 17 seats in the Belgian Parliament.
I call that "putting things into practice".

It's just that their actions are in Flemish, not English, so they are not covered very much in the North American media.

(Heck, they are not even covered in the Belgian press... Flanders might as well already be its own country, located on the far side of the moon, for all the attention they get in their own nation's (slanted to the left) French-language media. But I digress...)

The VB did get some unwelcome attention when the socialist-governed city of Brussels sent police to beat up VB party leaders at a pro-US 9/11 rally last year.

They were beaten up for their beliefs, and yet still continue to work towards their objectives.

I agree with you that there does not seem to be as many people there worth defending as there should be. The VB's 700~800,000 votes were out of a total of over six million votes cast, so that's a small percentage of people fed up with appeasement and moral drift.

From following European blogs, I'm constantly reminded how people are people, no matter the nation: some are good, many are bad, and most are just apathetic to what is happening outside the small circle they draw around their lives.

That makes it all the more important to keep encouraging the few to stand up to the many. They need all the help they can get..!

don_vito_corleone_1923 said...

The dhimmitude in Europe continues anyway , now the Dutch gov is roaring its ugly head intimidating weblogs that are critical to Islam , so far 3 weblogs had an "invitation" from the police to discuss comments from readers placed on them.

The comments are according to MDI (a Dutch state sponsored foundation against racisme on the internet) calling for hatred , in the case of the weblog GEENSTIJL they found 15 comments in 2005 which they say are offensive according to the Dutch laws.

I,m very sure they wont push charges , but its so handy to enforce self censorship that way.

Our freedom of speech is violated and NO ONE seems to care.

truepeers said...

don corleone,

you old bastard,

I care! If I may be so bold to offer a suggestion: what the Dutch need to start doing is using the internet so widely and so fearlessly that you develop a networks of bloggers (constantly talking to each other via email networks) so that any attempt to shut anyone up is only going to run up against a wall of civil disobedience from hundreds of other people.

Right now the thought police in Canada are losing. Sure all the good arguments are against them. But perhaps the most important reason they are losing is the pragmatic one: when contempt for "human rights" law that tries to control free expression is widespread and public, the state's ability to enforce it simply evaporates, if it is not willing or able to become a violent tyranny.

It seems like every major newspaper in Canada is following the lead of the bloggers in the Mark Steyn affair and condemning the "human rights" laws that allow for bureaucratic policing of speech. So, the law dies a natural death.

Use your God-given freedom to speak. Perform disciplined and thoughtful civil disobedience. Back up those who get in trouble with the law. And the anti-democratic liberal fascist elites will sooner or later have to fold.