Filip Dewinter on Free Speech, Dieudonné, and Anti-Semitism

Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated an interview with Vlaams Belang leader Filip Dewinter that appeared in Joods Actueel. First this note from the translator:

Paul Belien sent me a tip for this interesting interview with Filip Dewinter. I made a transcript and translated it.

The gap between Vlaams Belang and Jean-Marie le Pen is getting too wide to bridge, and though it might appear to be a strategic move, Dewinter sounds sincere in his doubt about any further cooperation with Le Pen. VB is very positive about the idea of inviting Israel to join NATO.

All parties in Belgium — except for one — are a bunch of potential Nazis. The exception is Vlaams Belang.

Another Socialist Islamo-fascist is unmasked: recently the French comedian Dieudonné gave a show in Brussels, Belgium. All political parties had someone in the theatre to enjoy the performance, including the Flemish Socialists, with whom Fouad Ahidar had a great time, and the latter confessed to Belgian TV that he is a major fan of Dieudonné. The only party that refused to show up was Vlaams Belang.

And now the interview by Joods Actueel [“Jewish Actuality”] with Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Belang, transcribed and translated by VH:

You must have heard and read about it: the French comedian Dieudonné was in our country yesterday. Now, you were not present there?

Dewinter: No, I was not present.

What is your position towards Dieudonné and the anti-Zionist party he founded last week?

Dewinter: He is a provocateur who naturally takes every opportunity to gain the interest of his audience. Whether it is about his anti-Zionist party, or his presence at the event of Jean-Marie le Pen or his anti-Semitic statements, he provokes.

His plea of provocation is obviously his main propaganda tool. I regret that, and I think he at the very least goes much more than one bridge too far. But still, it’s his free speech.

In my humble opinion I think he has the right to say what he wants to say, although I definitely do not support his opinions, and not a hair on my head was willing to be present at Dieudonné’s show. And that is my right to freedom of expression.

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You may know that he is also a big fan of Robert Faurisson, the man who trivialized the Holocaust, and he recently give him an award, presented by someone with a costume like those worn in concentration camps. I know that you have a good relationship — so I was told — with Jean-Marie le Pen; you have a picture of him at your home. And Dieudonné is also a big fan of Jean-Marie le Pen. Apparently, Jean-Marie le Pen is the godfather of one of the children of Dieudonné. So how do you view these two?

Dewinter: First, I would like to argue that the rudeness in his umpteenth provocation by — as mentioned — having someone in concentration camp togs hand out an award… naah, that is something so utterly disgusting that there are no words for it. But let me say again: he increasingly seeks to stretch the envelope of provocation all the time and therefore scans in the least the limits of the permissible and even of freedom of expression. Because it is questionable what this has to do with freedom of speech, this insulting of an entire population, in this case the Jewish community.

But to answer the second part of your question: Yes, Jean-Marie le Pen does what he can’t refrain from doing. I am absolutely not impressed at all with those statements by Le Pen about concentration camps and the Holocaust as part of the anti-Semitic remarks he made earlier and repeated yesterday once again, and I repudiate them in the strongest terms.

Because the only aim of all that is to be controversial enough to mobilize the dwindling number of voters in the face of the European Elections. But anyway, the roads of VB and Jean-Marie le Pen are ever more explicitly diverging from each other. I cannot currently say whether we are still prepared or willing to form a group with Jean-Marie le Pen in the European Parliament.

But you have that photo of Jean-Marie le Pen with you which is still prominent on the fireplace.

Dewinter: Firstly I have no fireplace in my home, and for that matter my private desk belongs to my private life…

And do you find that the right to freedom of expression should be absolute, that everyone should be able to say everything?

Dewinter: No, not everything. Free speech stops when it becomes a call to violence. There is a restriction on free speech. But we need not have laws to muzzle the freedom of expression for that…

Is not that a bit of the strategy that VB has always made use of?

Dewinter: Take for example the statements about what he [Dieudonné] says, the complaints, the court proceedings, the conviction, that remain in the picture, not that one should grant it to the man, and he always says that he is a comedian. Well then, treat a comedian as a comedian, laugh at him and leave it there.

The court procedure against the Vlaams Blok did not quite lay any shell-less eggs for you, so that is something of which one might also say: a provocation, media exposure because of that, and being a victim.

Dewinter: If you allow me to say something in brief about that conviction of Vlaams Belang: the man in the street already knew by intuition that this prosecution was unjust, and this is of course because of the principle that a party should not be sentenced by a court but by the voters at the time of elections, through the ballot box.

Then I have a further question: last night, I think for all political parties [except Vlaams Belang] in our country there was at least one person present. And as far as I know — but there may have been be more — Fouad Ahidar of the SP.a [Flemish Socialist Party]. What is your reflection on this, that someone of what one may say is a leftist party — and this Fouad Ahidar represents the left wing of a leftist party — is present with someone who in France has a reputation of being “extreme right”? Some say “les extrèmes se touche” [extremes closing ranks] and some people here assert that it is about Jew-hatred. That the friends of extreme groups agree with each other. The extreme right with the extreme left. How do you see this?

Dewinter: I have a different view on that. I believe that Fouad Ahidar was there as an Islamist, a Muslim, and the anti-Zionist tendency, the anti-Semitic tendency, and the unfortunate Jew hatred of Dieudonné — because that what it is about — suits Fouad Ahidar, and in fact in a way he sympathizes as a Muslim. I think it is about this. And it is not particularly “les extrèmes se touche” that is the issue here, but rather the fact that anti-Semitism, hatred of Jews and so forth, is part of radical Islam and is also increasingly put into practice by less radical Muslims. I think one has to look there for a clue, and not particularly the fact that the extreme left and extreme right find each other in the anti-Semitic lead of Dieudonné.

Some have suggested that one possible solution might be for Israel to become a member of NATO, so that when it is attacked the rest of the EU or NATO is also attacked. What is your position on an Israeli membership of NATO, and maybe the EU?

Dewinter: As far as a membership of NATO is concerned, I have no problem at all with that, and I think it might even be very good when Israel joins NATO, because NATO defends freedoms and democratic values, characteristic of European civilization, and I have always said so and will repeat it again, that Israel is an outpost of the free West in Islamic-occupied territory. Thus as far as I am concerned, Europe should more explicitly support Israel, instead of always wanting to be the critic, and holier than the Pope, in its approach towards Israel. Israel happens to be in very difficult circumstances, is besieged by radical Islam and receives criticism instead of help.

Secondly, I have my reservations about the plan for accession of Israel to the EU. Let me explain why: I think in terms of its civilization, its culture and so forth, and even economically, Israel would fit perfectly into the EU. But there is of course the geographical aspect, that Israel is not geographically a part of Europe. And how can countries that are a geographical part of Europe be kept outside the EU, when we would have Israel join the EU, which is in a geographical respect very far away from Europe, in the Middle East?

2 thoughts on “Filip Dewinter on Free Speech, Dieudonné, and Anti-Semitism

  1. What a sad situation for the family name of Dieudonné to be sullied now by association with this comedian. For the record, Jean Dieudonné was one of France’s most outstanding mathematicians from the last century.

  2. I don’t think Israel should accede to the EU either. It’s not in its best interests. It has a special status for historical and religious reasons, and it will be to its detriment to have people with EU passports move there in large numbers (as it is bound to happen under EU immigration rules).

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