Sam Van Rooy, a Vlaams Belang member of the Flemish parliament, is the subject of 1,777 complaints made to Unia, the official agency against discrimination.
The complaints were orchestrated by the Facebook group Allemaal Van Belang, who accused Van Rooy of calling for the genocide of the Afghan people.
The specific tweet subject of the complaint is just one of a number of messages posted by Van Rooy on his account, based on figures by Pew Research which purport to show that regardless of the advance of the Taliban in Afghanistan, 99% of the country’s men support Sharia law; 85% favour stoning of women for adultery; 79% would apply the death penalty for apostates; and 39% support suicide attacks.
The offending tweet, based on those figures: “Someone once told me that Afghanistan can only become a prosperous, free society if 70 percent of male Muslims are exterminated (because they are essentially no better than the Taliban).”
“Van Rooy is insinuating that it may be a legitimate goal to exterminate Afghans,” said one of the initiators of the protest. “It is precisely for this reason that restrictions on freedom of expression have been invoked, but unfortunately we see that this legislation is rarely applied.”
Given that the many complaints are the result of an organised campaign, it seems unlikely that Unia will bring an official complaint, particularly against a member of parliament. Opponents of his point of view will find plenty in his Twitter thread to be shocked by, both in his own tweets and in those he chooses to retweet.
As far as any criminal complaint might be concerned, Van Rooy would enjoy parliamentary immunity, specifically evoked to allow MPs to express their opinions openly, whatever they might be.
“But that was not created to fuel cheap racism,” the organiser said.
Meanwhile the man himself takes the occasion to turn the attack on his detractors, describing the campaign against him as ‘ridiculous’.
“But unfortunately it is also typical of this society, in which every expression or attempt at debate is seen as discrimination or racism.”
He describes his tweet as a ‘thinking exercise’, with which he wanted to show that “the majority of Afghan Muslim men hold the same views as the Taliban, especially about women.”