‘Sorry, my mic was on’: Flemish councillor resigns over xenophobic hot mic incident

‘Sorry, my mic was on’: Flemish councillor resigns over xenophobic hot mic incident
Grimbergen town hall. Credit: Google Street View

A Flemish city councillor has resigned from a local leadership position after she was caught on a hot mic saying “all foreigners should go away.”

Martine De Coppel stepped down as city council president of the Flemish municipality of Grimbergen after she said the phrase during an online meeting, thinking her microphone was muted.

De Coppel, 62, uttered the phrase after opposition councillor Kirsten Hoefs asked a question about the quality of life in Strombeek, a town in the municipality.

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Pressed for an apology from opposition councillors, Hoefs said that all De Coppel offered as an excuse was “excuse me, my mic was still on.”

“It was a silent reflection that Martine made for herself and that was not addressed to anyone,” fellow councillor Chantal Lauwers told Het Nieuwsblad, adding that De Coppel did apologise throughout the meeting.

“Martine repeatedly apologised during the digital council,” Lauwers said. “Immediately after the council, she offered her resignation as president (…) which was accepted (…) after all, this kind of statements cannot be accepted.”

De Coppel is a member of the Vernieuwing party, which made the headlines after local elections, because its members were required to sign a charter to declare they had no links with far-right party Vlaams Belang, from which several party members belonged to.

While she resigned from the council presidency, the 62-year-old is set to remain a member of the council of Grimbergen, some 10 km north of Brussels.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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