Congo arrests three Belgians over racist comments about Brussels mayor

Congo arrests three Belgians over racist comments about Brussels mayor
Ganshoren Mayor Pierre Kompany pictured during the oath ceremony during a plenary session of the Brussels parliament in Brussels, Tuesday 11 June 2019. © BELGA/ THIERRY ROGE

Three Belgians are among six people arrested in Congo and accused of writing racist slurs online targeting a Brussels mayor of Congolese origin, Pierre Kompany.

Media reports indicate that the three Belgians were flown to the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, for questioning and that they risk being deported to Belgium.

A spokesperson with the Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Thursday evening that they had been informed of the Belgians’ detention for questioning.

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“Through our embassy in Kinshasa and the consulate general in Lubumbashi, we are in contact with three Belgians who are currently having problems and have to answer to the competent authorities on the ground,” the unidentified spokesman told Flemish media.

“At this moment, we have no information about any potential sanctions,” he added.

The three Belgians, along with an Italian and a Portuguese national, were reportedly arrested for writing messages on social media that could see them risk imprisonment on charges of racism and death threats.

According to Het Nieuwsblad, one Belgian national identified as Alain D. wrote on Facebook that he “knew a taxidermist” who could put Kompany “among the wild animals in a museum,” with other comments using racist slurs to talk about the Ganshoren mayor.

The comments were posted in reaction to a video in which Kompany and fellow CDH party members call for the setting up of a parliamentary commission on Belgian-Congolese history.

A petition launched by local residents triggered the arrest of the three Belgians, whom, according to the outlet, Congolese authorities are seeking to deport.

Contacted by media, Kompany, who is also the father of former national football team captain Vincent Kompany, declined to comment.

“I am not informed and cannot respond until I know exactly what this is about,” he said. “Moreover, me and my family have been taunted enough on social media, that is also why I now choose to remain silent.”

At the start of the year, the Ganshoren city hall was evacuated for a police sweep after Kompany received a letter with insults and a death threat in an envelope containing white powder.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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