Zuhal Demir, federal secretary of state for equal opportunities, has announced a major plan to tackle discrimination, following the attack earlier this week on a 19-year-old girl in Anderlues by two men who objected to her wearing of the hijab. The assault took place on Monday, after the girl left home to pursue a dog the family were looking after for neighbours, which had escaped from the garden of their home in the village in Hainaut province. On the way she was accosted by two men, who commented on her veil and proceeded to strip her, and then slashed her on the upper body, arms and stomach.
The girl managed to escape and found help. She was later hospitalised and interviewed by police.
Minister Demir announced she would be producing a major plan to tackle discrimination in all its forms, including that practised by immigrants against others. Demir recently reported receiving death threats linked to accusations she is a sympathiser of the Kurdish separatist group PKK.
The plan will also look at the poor rate of employment of women of foreign origin, as well as harassment on grounds of dress, not only as in the case of Anderlues but also in the opposite sense, where women are harassed for dressing in “too Western” a fashion.
Meanwhile local businessman Fatih Larabi is offering a bounty of €20,000 for information leading to the arrest of the men responsible. He stressed he was not responding because of the anti-Muslim character of the attack, but as a gesture against violence and discrimination of any origin. “The money is on the table,” he told the Libre Belgique. “It’s out of my hands. If the person wants it, they can have it. If they want half, they can have half. If they don’t want anything then the money will contribute to the struggle against violence and victim aid.”