It is common knowledge that wherever Middle Eastern “royal” families travel, their retinue of
slaves unpaid servants accompanies them. This is no secret to Western governments, who regularly tolerate such practices without the least demur.
Now, for some reason, the Brussels authorities have decided to crack down. It’s an intriguing story, more for what it doesn’t say than what it does.
First of all is the odd title of The Telegraph report:
“Women ‘enslaved’ by Arab royals”
Now why do you suppose the verb is in scare quotes? It’s obvious from the story that they are indeed enslaved. Perhaps this newspaper thinks there is not enough evidence to support the charge? Perhaps it would be a good idea to follow the money and ascertain who actually owns The Telegraph?
And on to the story itself:
Seventeen women have been taken by police from a luxury hotel in Brussels amid allegations that they had been enslaved by an Arab royal family.
Police officers and officials from Belgium’s Labour Audit Authority raided the Conrad Hotel, the city’s most prestigious and the preferred choice of many national leaders during European Union summits, on Tuesday evening.
The operation was triggered by the apparent escape of a maid who was among 20 servants working for the widow of a senior royal figure from the United Arab Emirates and her four daughters who have rented the entire fourth floor of the hotel for the last year.
Would you look at the weasel words here? “Apparent” and “allegations” previously and “allegedly” or “reportedly” further on in the story.
What gives? Is The Telegraph afraid of being sued? Most strange…
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Officials took away 17 people, from countries including the Philippines, Morocco, India, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Syria, amid allegations they had been held captive for eight months.
Several members of the royal party have been questioned, police said yesterday. No charges have been brought but the investigation continues.
“We are convinced that these 17 girls are victims of people trafficking,” said an official.
The servants, dubbed “slaves” in the Belgian media, allegedly had to be at the service of the Arab royals 24 hours a day and had their passport taken away on arrival in Belgium. The women were reportedly not allowed to leave the hotel and their monthly salaries were as low as £80 a month.
“We were not allowed to leave the hotel and we had to be at their disposal 24 hours a day,” claimed one young woman of Middle Eastern origin.
“We were not allowed to complain or to ask any questions. We just had to be there at their beck and call.”
Last week four maids from the Philippines allegedly attempted to escape from the hotel. Three were detained by the royal family’s security staff but the fourth woman managed to alert the Belgian police.
There was no response last night from the Brussels embassy of the UAE when it was contacted to comment on the case.
Most Belgian newspapers have described the case as “slavery right in the heart of Brussels”.
If the story itself is a little sideways, what about the reality of the arrests themselves? What goes here? As I said, Western governments have known about these slaves for generations. I can’t believe someone in Brussels is growing a conscience…
…Anyone willing to guess on this one?