Two individuals on trial for racism against Brussels politician Pierre Kompany

Two individuals on trial for racism against Brussels politician Pierre Kompany
Pierre Kompany during his time as the mayor of Ganshoren. Credit: Belga / Hatim Kaghat

The trial for racist acts towards Belgian politician and former mayor of Ganshoren, Pierre Kompany, commenced in a Brussels court on Tuesday. Two people have been charged with racist insults.

Kompany’s party in the Brussels Parliament, Les Engagés (formerly known as cdH), filed a complaint to the police over incitement to hatred, racism and bullying against their co-leader in 2020.

Kompany, also known as the father of former Red Devil footballer Vincent Kompany, had become the target of repeated racist online messages after a video by his political party, Les Engagés. The video was on a resolution related to the shared colonial history and memory between Belgium and Congo.

Three offences, two accused

So far, two people have been charged for the racist comments, while the Public Prosecution Service is still looking for other profiles that could not yet be identified due to a lack of time and resources.

According to Les Engagés, the Prosecutor’s Office identified three offences: incitement to hatred or violence, inciting discrimination or segregation, and spreading ideas based on racial superiority or hatred.

D. was charged with incitement to hatred or violence after dehumanising the mayor as an animal and insinuating he should 'undergo taxidermy'.

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The incitement to discrimination or segregation was committed by A., who commented on a video published on Kompany’s Facebook page, stating that “they are are fools” and it is “impossible to teach them something”, among other racist comments.

Both of the accused individuals were charged with the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred.

The truth about Congo

After Congo’s independence in 1960, Pierre Kompany was one among many who moved to Belgium. In 1975, he settled in Brussels and continued studying mechanical engineering while driving a taxi by night to support his family.

Seven years later he became a Belgian citizen, and in 2018 he became the country’s first black mayor in Ganshoren. His son, Vincent, became the captain of the national football club Red Devils and was the head coach of Anderlecht until last week.

Pierre Kompany has been vocal about Belgium’s dark shared history with Congo and says the country does not do enough to acknowledge its past mistakes.

“Belgium was good to me,” he says, “but while I’m grateful for the opportunities Belgium gave me, that does not mean I should stay quiet.”

“Belgians need to know the truth about Congo,” he wrote for The Brussels Times earlier this year. “History has been taught badly. Children rarely learn about the pain and ruin that Belgium left in its wake.”

Having been a long-time advocate for inclusive history books that reflect the truth, it saddens him when people defend the colonial bloodshed by saying Belgian colonisers also 'did good things', like railways and hospitals. “That doesn’t replace the devastation they caused. They don’t talk about what they had to do to build the railways, to harvest the rubber.”

Unfortunately, the price to pay for so many high profile black politicians and public figures who speak out about racism and colonialism is to be subjected to further racism, which according to many, further proves the importance of these kinds of conversations.

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