Share article:
Share article:

Flemish government cuts its ties with Minorities Forum

Opposition member An Moerenhout (Groen). © Belga

The Flemish government has stopped its cooperation with the Minorities Forum, arguing that the organisation no longer corresponds to the new government’s norms.

Instead, official recognition goes to Join.Vlaanderen, an organisation set up by social entrepreneur and author Hassan Al Hilou, which brings together young people with migration roots in hackathons to discuss how to reach out to more young people on issues such as the implementation of coronavirus measures.

More people of foreign descent will feel themselves more effectively represented,” said social affairs minister Bart Somers (Open VLD).

The clouds started to gather over the Minorities Forum in September last year, when an internal discussion document was leaked that raised questions over future support for organisations that were based on origin or philosophy. The document stated clearly that relations with the Minorities Forum should be brought to an end.

At the time, 78 organisations including the Catholic scouting movement Chiro, the LGBT organisation Cavaria and the forum itself, signed an open letter to the Flemish government, claiming the decision was motivated by the government’s view that the forum is non-inclusive, and arguing that representation for a variety of organisations was the very definition of inclusion.

But the government was determined to go ahead, and put out an open tender that attracted three applications. Join.Vlaanderen was selected to go ahead.

Instead of maintaining existing structures, I want to work with new people to get things moving,” Somers said.

Join.Vlaanderen is innovative, practice-oriented and action-oriented. It will not only formulate policy advice, but will roll out concrete actions and projects that can make living together in diversity a success.”

The forum was informed of the decision yesterday, in a phone call from Somers’ office to director Landry Mawungu, who described the decision as “incomprehensible”.

Over the past year, the Minorities Forum evolved from a classic umbrella organisation of ethnic-cultural associations to a network organisation,” he said.

We have been playing the role of advocate for the rights of ethnic-cultural minorities for years. A constructive, yet critical and independent voice with twenty years of expertise. Unfortunately, these are qualities in civil society organisations that are increasingly not appreciated.”

The government’s decision was attacked by opposition party Groen.

This is a sad day for ethnic-cultural minorities in Flanders,” said member of parliament An Moerenhout.

Somers’ decision, she said, bore the fingerprints of N-VA, “a party that has been speaking tough talk from the outset about, among other things, integration.”

Organisations that think differently about integration and racism than N-VA met with silence from the Flemish government,” she said.

The Minorities Forum is now being punished because it was a thorn in the flesh of Flanders for years. Losing twenty years of the forum’s expertise to an organisation that has just been put together is an example of bad policy.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Experts call for more widespread use of masks as figures rise
As coronavirus figures continue to rise, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has suggested that people return to wearing masks when indoors with ...
Belgium wants to recover €420 million in wrongfully paid out coronavirus aid
The Belgian State intends to recover €420 million of unduly paid Covid-19 aid, La Libre Belgique reported on Thursday. The electronic Council of ...
Why the fight for transgender rights is polarising Europe 
Year after year, Samuel De Schepper would ask Santa Claus to bring him a penis for Christmas. Born female and attending an all girl’s Catholic ...
New offshore wind farm officially opened
Despite being operational since the end of 2020, the SeaMade offshore wind farm was officially inaugurated on Wednesday by Prime Minister Alexander ...
Contact tracers have no time for calls, only texts, amid rising cases
Contract tracers will no longer make phone calls to the high-risk contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus beginning from Wednesday, ...
Belgium holds on to top spot in FIFA rankings despite recent losses
Once again, Belgium's Red Devils have held onto their position at the top of the world football rankings, according to an update released by the ...
Proximus pushes for high-speed internet in Brussels and Wallonia
Fifteen municipalities in Wallonia should soon have access to high-speed internet through the rollout of fibre optics in the region, telecoms giant ...
World’s largest chocolate warehouse opens in Flanders
On Thursday, Barry Callebaut – the largest global chocolate processor and manufacturer – opened the world's largest chocolate warehouse in Lokeren, ...
Belgium in Brief: Equal Opportunity To Dance
There's a phrase where I'm from, more often said in jest nowadays, but it came to my mind this morning: "Ye dancin'?" (Are you dancing?), one ...
Farmer discovers cocaine in banana boxes bought in Brussels
A Flemish farmer who purchased boxes of bananas at the market in Brussels on Tuesday came home to discover large amounts of cocaine packed among the ...
Changes to speed cameras increase likelihood of a ticket
Changes to the way speed cameras work in Flanders and Wallonia will increase the likelihood of receiving a ticket when cars pass them above the ...
Why Belgium is regulating sex work
After decades of confusing rules and hypocritical policy, Belgium is finally regulating sex work by removing prostitution from the criminal law. ...