Far-right politician calls for "Flemish only" event

Far-right politician calls for "Flemish only" event
Vlaams Belang's Tom Van Grieken and Independent member of Vlaams Belang chamber group, Dries Van Langenhove pictured during a plenary session of the chamber at the federal parliament in Brussels. BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS

Far-right politician Dries Van Langenhove deleted controversial tweets in connection with the now cancelled radical Frontnacht festival, reported De Standaard.

The founder of Schild & Vrienden, a youth association which has been found guilty of spreading racists and sexists memes, wrote on his social media pages that it was "actually not such a bad idea" to advise people of colour not to go to Ypres in order to avoid the festival, which had been scheduled for the last weekend of August.

"Perhaps, purely as a scientific experiment, we should see what would happen to a Flemish city if we only allow ethnic Flemish people there for a while and thus reverse the so-called 'multicultural enrichment'," Van Langenhove wrote, adding that "it would have been interesting from a purely scientific point of view if we had a city to compare with (sic) against the effects of the multicultural experiment in Flanders."

Racism unchallenged

Far-right Flemish nationalist party Vlaams Belang has distanced itself from Van Langenhove. "His tweet has been deleted" and "skin colour is not an issue for Vlaams Belang", Vlaams Beland chairperson Tom Van Grieken said on Tuesday, dismissing the controversial posts of his MP Dries Van Langenhove.

However, there was no public rebuke that he had crossed a party line. Van Langenhove stressed that he had removed his post only because he "didn't feel like another Twitter ban" and as the tweet had been "maliciously misinterpreted".

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Yet for Vlaams Belang, ethnicity is a line the party doesn't want to cross. Similar to Van Grieken, Flemish MP and youth chairperson Filip Brusselmans said that the party "doesn't want to focus on ethnicity" and "isn't engaged in such experiments."

However, the party fell short of publically chastising Van Langenhove. Brusselman said that he "doesn't follow social media during the summer recess" and "doesn't want to comment on every tweet from individual members of parliament."

Van Langenhove has already faced legal action over extreme social media posts but remains popular with Flemish youth and was instrumental in Vlaams Belang attracting many young voters in the 2019 election.

'You can become Flemish'

Although Vlaams Belang wavered in its response to Van Langenhove, N-VA MP Theo Franchen lashed out at the party for "blowing hot and cold."

"President Tom Van Grieken in an earlier interview distanced himself from ethnic nationalism, while Van Langenhove now wants an experiment with ethnic Flemings," said Franchen. "What is it now? I personally believe very strongly in the concept of 'You can become Flemish', shared citizenship and inclusive community thinking."

Van Grieken has previously stated that he knows "places where 'people of no colour' (ie. white people)... are actually better off staying away, such as the Blaarmeersen, Borgerhout, the beach at high tide or Molenbeek."

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