The Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders (of the MR – the Conservative/Liberals) spoke in favour today both in La Libre and on La Première (RTBF – radio and television station), of a declaration on European values. His idea is that every young Belgian should sign this, after taking a course in citizenship within their education.
Mr Reynders explains, “Whatever people’s roots, their education pathway should contain a citizenship course.”
He elaborates, “I am seeking to implement this and, after the course, there should be a formal declaration around the respect for European values.”
He goes further, “Individuals should sign this upon attaining the age of majority. This declaration should also be signed upon obtaining Belgian nationality.”
In his view, various forms of punishment should be meted out upon refusal to sign, dependent upon nationality. For foreigners there ought to be “consequences” as to whether you are able to remain in Belgium.
Belgians, “…should be subject to monitoring and having to undertake a training course.”
Mr Reynders mentions various declaration-related issues, in particular, the radicalisation of some Muslims, respect for male-female equality, and the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols, both at school and within the public sector.
He also raises the issues of taking part in elections and even the separation of religious faiths from the state (previously referred to as “church and state”).
He is conscious that this will not stop “the young radicalised Muslim who is part way through tinkering with his bomb,” but mentions that this is a “medium term to long term” operation.
The Secretary of State for Asylum and Immigration, Theo Francken (of the N-VA – New Flemish Alliance), is already laying a Bill before parliament. This is targeted at any foreigner wishing to reside in Belgium for more than three months.
The idea is that such individuals commit to act in compliance with the rights, obligations, values and freedoms of Belgian society. Such an individual’s asylum application would be rejected if he refused to sign the declaration.