UNIA, the former Inter-federal Centre for Equal Opportunities, has opened a racism case following Miss Belgium posting a comment on the social network Instagram. This was indicated by a spokesperson yesterday (Tuesday), confirming information received by the Sudpresse publications.
Romanie Schotte, who was crowned Miss Belgium 2017 last Saturday has, for a number of days, been at the centre of a controversy. On a photograph, which she posted on Instagram before being crowned, there was a black man in the background.
One of her Instagram contacts reacted by posting “This nigger”, to which Miss Belgium had responded “I know” accompanied by an emoticon containing excrement.
The UNIA spokesperson explained, “We have opened a file in relation to this potential cyberhate incident following the information that we received, but have also referred the matter to a higher authority.”
The UNIA representative went on, “We lament this commonplace racism which remains a daily reality in Belgium. This incident is especially regrettable given the position now held by the individual concerned. We are sorry that, in this day and age, people can use such ill-considered images as a joke.”
UNIA will now analyse the impact of this comment and the use of the emoticon. The spokesperson concluded, “After a few weeks we will decide either to continue the investigation or close the case. We are not certain that the anti-racism or anti-discrimination laws apply here, as the inciting hatred element is not present in this case.”
Romanie Schotte swiftly deleted the photo in question from her Instagram profile. On Monday, she confirmed in a communiqué that she “was not racist (…).” Schotte went on, “I am open to all cultures and people. My father mainly works in Africa, therefore how on earth could I afford to be racist?”