Two youths who harassed two black women with racist taunts at the Pukkelpop festival in Kiewit at the weekend are to make a special trip to the Africa Museum in Tervuren – accompanied by the federal secretary of sate for equal opportunities, Zuhal Demir. The two men were chanting “Handen kappen, Congo is van ons”. The word “kappen” is used instead of the innocent “handen klappen” (clap your hands) and refers to the practice during colonial times of cutting off the hands – one or both – of recalcitrant slaves guilty of even the slightest offence.
“I am inviting the young men who were chanting these slogans to visit the Africa Museum,” she said. There they will see what really happened during our colonial past in Congo. Nothing for us to be proud of, quite the opposite. Terrible things were done. After their visit, they may think again about their behaviour.”
Demir, whose family is of Kurdish Turkish origin, said she had spoken to the youths on Tuesday, and one of them had agreed to the visit. The museum, intended as a celebration of Belgium’s colonial glory, is now more of an indictment of a particularly cruel regime maintaining the Congo for the personal enrichment of Leopold II.
At the same time, the prosecutor’s office in Hasselt is to examine whether charges can be brought against the youths – regardless of the minister’s educational gesture.