We’ve written previously about the political persecution of Frank Vanhecke and Vlaams Belang by the Belgian establishment. Vlaams Belang’s stated intention is to establish an independent Flanders, so the Belgian government has good reason to suppress the movement at any cost. The preferred tactic is to declare a prominent VB member’s words or writings “racist”, and then apply the full force of the law to destroy that person’s political career.
This tactic was used to good effect with Bart Debie, and now Frank Vanhecke is being set up as the next victim. As a member of the European Parliament, he was protected from prosecution by parliamentary immunity, so the primary task for the Belgian government was to have his immunity revoked. Compliant MEPs jumped on the bandwagon and voted to strip Mr. Vanhecke of all protection, so that his government is now free to haul him into court and give him the Bart Debie treatment.
Bear in mind the nature of his “crime”: a Vlaams Belang publication written by someone else accused immigrants of desecrating Flemish graves. Mr. Vanhecke is deemed to be editorially responsible for the “racist” pamphlet, so he, rather than the author, is being prosecuted for it. Not only did he not write it, but he ensured that the text was corrected when it turned out to be inaccurate.
But none of this matters in the Orwellian world of Belgian and EU politics. Frank Vanhecke is guilty of a heinous crime against Multiculturalism, and must be punished severely pour encourager les autres. It’s open season on him now. He can expect a trial, conviction, a sentence (which will later be commuted to something symbolic), the removal of his civil rights for many years, and the end of his political career.
That’s the way business is conducted in Belgium. If your party is dubbed “far-right”, it means that you are beyond the pale, and that you lack ordinary political rights. And remember: this is the high-minded country that lectures the rest of the world on human rights.
Here’s the story from EU Observer:
European Parliament Lifts Immunity of Far-Right MEP
The European Parliament on Tuesday (18 November) lifted the immunity of Belgian far-right MEP Frank Vanhecke, who is facing racism charges in Belgium.
MEPs voted by 564 for and 61 against to lift his immunity, while 42 abstained.
The Belgian deputy of the Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang is accused of publishing and editing a political pamphlet in 2005 which wrongly accused “foreigners” of desecrating cemeteries.
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The text also said: “a culture which has no respect for the dead or for the symbols of a different faith is a delinquent culture,” according to French news agency AFP.
It later transpired that four local Flemish young people were guilty of the crimes the “foreigners” had been accused of in Saint-Nicolas, a town in Flanders, Belgium’s Dutch-speaking northern region.
MEPs dispose of an immunity which prevents them from being “wanted, detained or sued because of opinions or votes emitted by them in the exercise of their functions.”
They rarely lift the privilege over political statements, but in this case decided Mr Vahnecke’s parliamentary cover did not extend to his editorial activities and obligations.
For his part, the Belgian MEP said he was the victim of a “political lynching,” arguing that he had made sure the article in question was corrected, the Associated Press reports.
The party to which Mr Vanhecke belongs is a successor of another formation that was dismantled after it was found guilty of racism in 2004. Vlaams Belang also backs independence for Flanders.
The European Parliament move comes ahead of the June 2009 European elections, where far right parties are expected to score gains across Europe due to the financial crisis and recession.
From a country that wants to try George Bush and Dick Cheney for “war crimes”, I guess all this makes sense.
Previous posts about Bart Debie and Frank Vanhecke:
Hat tip: Henrik.