29-year-old far-right Vlaams Belang MP Dries Van Langenhove will resign his mandate as a deputy in the House of Representatives, he announced on Saturday during a press event at the Vlaams Belang headquarters. Van Langenhove was known for his inflammatory views and youth activism. He is also the leader of the Flemish nationalist youth organisation Schild & Vrienden.
“I have always felt more like an activist than a politician,” he told VRT News. The young politician had been elected on a Vlaams Belang electoral list in the province of Flemish Brabant but was not, technically, a member of the party. He did, however, sit with the parliamentary group in the chamber.
The elected official states that he wishes to continue his activism, especially through his own media channels. He believes that his brand of far-right nationalism will have more impact online than it would in parliament, stating that he was “systematically silenced to death” by the media.
On his social media channels, notably his Telegram channel, Van Langenhove peddles far-right conspiracy theories such as QAnon, as well as extreme rhetoric, a recent De Standaard investigation concluded.
For his role as the leader of the far-right nationalist Schild & Vrienden, the former-MP is facing a trial centred around incitement to discrimination, segregation, hatred, and violence. Van Langenhove will use his resignation to dedicate more time towards defending his case.
A 2018 TV exposé revealed that members of the groups regularly espoused racist, and anti-semitic views, much of which allegedly from the mouth of its leader. Schild & Vrienden acts as a recruiting base for young talent at Vlaams Belang and many elected officials started their careers within its ranks.
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Vlaams Belang president Tom Van Grieken admitted that the loss of Dries Van Langenhove was a hit for the party. “He was our strong man in Flemish Brabant,” he told the press.
In one recent scandal, Van Langenhove drew parallels between the death of a young girl in Antwerp with Orania, a pro-apartheid settlement in South Africa.