A Turkish court has moved to ban AKP, the political party which is currently governing the country. The European Union strongly objects, saying that popular, legal, and peaceful parties should be never be suppressed.
The hypocrisy of the Eurocrats is highlighted by this issue, considering how vigorously they banned the Flemish separatist party Vlaams Blok, and are now attempting to eradicate its successor, Vlaams Belang.
Philip Claeys, a Vlaams Belang member representing Belgium (and Flanders) in the European Parliament, has just written an open letter Olli Rehn, a member of the European Commission.
Open letter to Commissioner Olli Rehn
Brussels, 14 April 2008
In Turkey the chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals wants to ban the governing AKP party. The Turkish constitutional court unanimously decided to allow the indictment. More than 70 people are in danger of losing their political rights, amongst others prime minister Erdogan and President Gül.
You reacted very fiercely to these new developments in Turkey, pointing out, among other things, that in the European Union politics is pursued by way of the ballot box and parliamentary debate. In the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament, you added that it is unimaginable that a legal, popular political party which does not use or propagate violence, would be banned.
I regret to have to point out that this has actually already happened in the European Union, more specifically in Belgium, the home country of the ‘capital of Europe’.
On 9 November 2004 the Vlaams Blok was definitely found guilty by the Court of cassation in Brussels for ‘racism’. At that particular moment the Vlaams Blok — a party which is striving for the independence of Flanders and is by no means racist — was the biggest party both in Flanders and in Belgium. Strictly speaking, the party was not outlawed, but the practical consequences were nevertheless the same. As a result of the judgment, membership of the party was de facto criminalised.
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Both in first and in second instance, judges refused to convict the Vlaams Blok, on the basis of the same arguments put forward by you in the Turkish context.
The Belgian antiracism legislation does not define racism, and was deliberately made so vague that anything and anyone could be convicted. For example, one of the elements in the judgment concerned an article about female circumcision. Although the court did not challenge the actual facts, it declared that the article was not meant to help Muslim women but to “stigmatise Islam.” You would probably agree that such a statement is in fact not aimed at racism but at freedom of speech.
Never before has it been the case that a party in a candidate member state, let alone a party in power, is in danger of being outlawed. This is an additional reason to have a very thorough discussion about the question whether a country like Turkey really belongs to the European Union. But apart from this the eye-opening reality, it is a fact that a political party has already been outlawed in Belgium. On the day of the final verdict in this case, you were already a member of the European Commission. Let it be a warning for those who want to build Europe after the Belgian model.
Member of the European Parliament
Hat tip: Henrik.