'Why not cut their parents' benefits?' Justice Minister says of rioting football fans

'Why not cut their parents' benefits?' Justice Minister says of rioting football fans
Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD). Credit: Eric Lalmand/Belga

Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) gave an extreme response in parliament on how best to combat the type of riots that followed Morocco's World Cup win against Belgium on Sunday, proposing to cut the allowances of rioters' parents. This is despite it being beyond the Federal Government's power.

On Thursday, Belgium's Interior and Justice Ministers, Vincent Van Quickenborne and Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) faced questions from MPs in the Chamber of Representatives about the incidents that occurred on Sunday after the World Cup match opposing Morocco and Belgium.

Following Morocco's 2-0 win, supporters of the team took to the streets to celebrate but were met with already present police officers, which led to violent scenes breaking out. As a result, Van Quickenborne suggested various solutions to lawmakers on how to best avoid such incidents in the future.

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Among his recommendations was compiling a list of  'problematic' youth, while he also seemed to focus on holding rioters' parents more accountable for their children's actions. To that aim, he pondered in parliament, "why not cut their family benefits?" Although he subsequently admitted that this was outside the Federal Government's jurisdiction.

Given that his speech was only applauded by members of the far-right Flemish party Vlaams Belang, Van Quickenborne emphasised that the Moroccan community as whole should not be stigmatised as a result of Sunday's actions. However, many felt that his proposal, once again, puts the blame on a community for the actions of a minority.

Nabil Boukili, the radical left-wing MP, told Van Quickenborne in parliament that he should feel ashamed of having “been applauded by the far right," while reminding him that "Belgian-Moroccan mothers were the ones who went to clean up" the streets after Sunday's incidents.

In any case, the Justice Minister stated that the Federal Government will examine a draft bill "within the next few weeks" that would allow for alleged rioters to appear in court within a five-day period.

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