Darya Aslamova with renowned Flemish nationalist Frank Vanhecke.
Чему научит нас Европа? У них самих большая... проблема. Часть 2
Final installment. Read previous installment
A short description of our first installment: Ethnic battles are erupting in the heart of the EU. Belgium's Flemings and Walloons are fighting among themselves and hoping to split the country in two. At the same time, Arab emigrants are fleeing to Belgium en masse. Will Belgium face another Kosovo scenario?
"The most popular child's name in Brussels and Antwerp is 'Mohammed,'" said Mia Doornaert, diplomatic editor at the Flemish paper Standaard. "I don't have anything against emigrants if they're willing to work and integrate into the local community. But that's not what's happening. We're being forced to feed them. Arab emigrants hide from the police in our churches, which in turn refuse to kick them out. That's just how things are here. Why don't they go and hide in their mosques? And it's impossible to print even one word about emigrants in the press without being called a racist."
"It's hard to imagine that Belgian residents are ready to mix their ancient Christian blood with the Arabs," I said emotionally. "And your nation's heroes commanded the first and only successful Crusade and freed Jerusalem!"
It turned out my passion was contagious. "You're absolutely right!" she said. "Europe shouldn't forget about its Christian history. I think the EU made an unforgivable mistake by removing the clause about our Christian roots in the Constitution. I always respected Pope John Paul II. He was a good person, but why did he decide to apologize for the Crusades! The Muslims started conquering our Christian shrines first. They captured Jerusalem and Constantinople — a large Christian center. Europe didn't receive any apology from the Muslims for seizing our shrines. Why should the Christians feel guilty? In a global world where borders between peoples are being removed, it's important for people to know where they came from and where they are going. People need an identity. I'm Flemish and I'm proud of my people's history. The Walloons call our national feelings 'folklore.' But it's not folklore. It's our sense of self."
"Is it true that Walloon Socialist Parties do everything they can to encourage Arab emigration as they rely on this voter base?" I asked.
"Without question! Arabs arriving from Morocco and Algeria, former French colonies, speak French and vote for French-speaking socialists who promise them a Socialist heaven," she said.
There are numerous dubious politicians on Belgium's political scene who demand political correctness in emigrant issues. They are mostly activists of the French-speaking Walloon parties. I remember how surprised I was when I spoke with Olivier Maingain, president of the Democratic French-Speaking Front and one of the most colorful Walloon politicians. We were talking about Belgium's possible collapse and the irreconcilable differences between Walloons and Flemings.
"The essence of the conflict is the following. First, the Flemish don't want to share their money with the Walloons," said Maingain. "The concept of solidarity is foreign to them. In addition, we have different views on immigration. The Flemings are a closed culture that doesn't love outsiders. For example, they refuse to give free social housing in Flanders to Arab emigrants who don't speak Dutch."
"Why should you give emigrants free housing?" I asked.
"What do you mean?" he said. "They need somewhere to live!"
"And you're surprised the Flemish authorities demand that the emigrants know their language if they want free housing? You mean to say that the authorities in Wallonia just hand out free apartments? Maybe the Arabs also take part in the elections without knowing the language?" I asked.
"Of course!" he said. "If someone has lived here for over three years, then he has the right to vote. It doesn't matter if he knows the language or not. Taking part in the elections helps first-generation emigrants integrate into our society. Their children will already be Belgians."
"I think the Arabs will integrate you into their communities first," I said. "And what if they demand to build a mosque on your charming Gran-Plas square?"
"I don't see anything wrong with that," he said. "We are an open, civilized society. We're not nationalists."
"You're giving up your country without a fight," I said. "If the Flemings refuse Brussels voluntarily, then are you prepared to split Belgium into two independent states?"
"If we have Brussels, then yes," he said.
If anyone can save Belgium from collapsing, it's going to be the Arab emigrants who are neither Walloon or Flemish and want to preserve the country's welfare system.
"They just love the king," Doornaert said.
"Maybe because the king is like an immigrant himself," I said. "He's not a Walloon or a Fleming. And he receives social welfare!"
"It's seems so!" Mia said laughingly.
Arabs are the only people in the country who can be called genuine Belgians. It's just like in the popular Belgian anecdote. The commander tells his soldiers during the parade: "Flemings! To the left! Walloons! To the right!" But one lonely Arab was left standing in the middle. "Sergeant Mustafa! Why are you still standing there?" the commander screamed. "Well what should we do?" he asked. "We ordinary Belgians?"
The new European nationalism
They're respectable, wealthy, well-raised and educated. They know history, speak different languages and travel. They hold high posts at banks, financial corporations and law offices. These are the new European nationalists. Their patriotism doesn't result in bloodshed. They believe wholeheartedly in democracy, honest contracts and legal methods of resolving conflicts, and they maintain relations with their radical Northern Irish and Basque neighbors.
Nationalism is becoming a trendy doctrine in Europe as the middle classes react to globalization and political correctness. In a world where borders are being wiped clear and the Internet is available in every home, people have a greater longing to stick out in the crowd.
The new nationalists are a chain of political parties that are interconnected and stretch throughout Europe. Northern Italy, Scotland, France, Austria and the Basques. For instance, I made contacts with the Flemish nationalists in Croatia.
I'm in Flanders — the "clean" country, as poets have referred to the region. Flanders has Europe's most well-kept, ancient cities. Fat cows and wealthy farmers are everywhere. The soil is rich and managed by hard-working people.
I was escorted to a small hole in the wall in a minuscule Flemish town by Paul and Peter Vandeermoer. The father and son are ardent nationalists. The red-haired, handsome Peter is already vice president of the popular Flemish People's Movement despite his young age.
We drank cherry beer and talked about everything under the sun that gets on my friends' nerves in Brussels. Mainly: the king who speaks Dutch incorrectly, the pompous French-speaking minority, the Flemish soldiers killed in the First World War because they didn't understand the orders of the French-speaking officers, the EU that mimics the U.S., and Arab expansionism and discrimination against Europeans.
"When several Arabs beat a 50-year-old man to death on a bus the other day for sticking up for a young couple," Peter said, "the papers called the murder an 'incident.' Referring to the event as a 'murder' would have been politically incorrect."
Peter is proud to be a nationalist. "People always mistakenly draw parallels between Nazism and nationalism," he said. "What's wrong with being proud of your roots? If I don't respect myself, how can I respect others? I want to hear songs in my country in my own language and not in French or in English. I want to sing about my homeland."
Like many Flemings, Paul and Peter dream of a "Chocolate Revolution," hoping Flanders will one day peacefully gain independence. And judging from the other Flemings who I met on my travels through Belgium, they are certainly not alone in their desire.
"We'll bury Belgium"
Frank Vanhecke is a deputy in the EU parliament and one of the most well-known nationalists in Flanders. When his party the Flemish Block was banned for xenophobia and racism, he stated: "We'll create a new party that Belgium won't be able to bury. Instead we'll bury Belgium ourselves."
It looks like his promise is about to come true. His new party the Flemish Interests enjoys wide support among the population. But even so Frank risks losing his political mandate for 5 years.
"This whole procedure of trying to blame us for racism has lasted four years," said Frank. "Anyone with any brains has difficulty trying to explain their 'evidence' against us. One woman, who is our party member and a Belgian citizen of Turkish descent, published an article in our local party paper about the horrific female castrations that go on in Muslim countries. During the trial, the judge said it's a known fact that such articles 'stigmatize' Islam and provoke anti-Islamic feelings. Hence, meaning we committed an act of racism.
"I'm awaiting a trial myself this autumn that aims to deprive me of my political immunity. I've been accused of racism for writing a 35-word news brief. And I didn't actually write the piece myself. It was published in the party flyer and described an act of vandalism committed by Northern Africans against Christian graves. However, the vandals were under 18 years old and by law the author didn't have the right to indicate their ethnicity. As soon as the brief went to print, the special forces burst into his home. He was arrested and thrown into prison for 48 hours. His house was searched and his computers were also breached. I quickly sent out a letter with a public apology. We're not right, I wrote, for having published the material, as according to the law on underage criminals, we can't prove the facts that have been published. Five years later, I'm having to stand trial. I'm considered morally responsible for the behavior of our party member as the party president.
"We're being punished because we're nationalists and part of a movement that is spreading across the world. I'd call the movement patriotic. In a global world, people want a place that they can call their own. Look at us! We don't have any tattoos. We're not wearing uniforms. We're normal people. We're a pacifist organization and don't even dream of applying force. Our independence is written in the stars. The idea is so strong, and Belgium is so weak... Everything will just happen automatically."
"What will happen with Europe if Belgium falls?" I asked.
"I don't believe in the European identity, although I'm a deputy of the EU parliament," said Frank. "Belgium's collapse will be a good example for all of the EU. We are all part of Europe's culture, but Europe's wealth is in its diversity."
"One Ukrainian nationalist told me an interesting thought," I said. "When a special breed of crocodiles or hamsters starts to die out, international organizations are immediately lost in turmoil. Greenpeace sounds the alarm. But when nationalities start to disappear, sub-groups of mankind and their specific cultures, languages and traditions, no one says a single word. You can fight for some yellow penguin, but not for, let's say, a Fleming."
"I agree," Frank laughed. "I was in Russia once. When I got back to Belgium I was shocked. What happened to my country? I saw so many white people in Russia! People like me. When I say 'white,' I don't mean skin color, but rather people with a European mentality. In Brussels, Europe's capital, over 50 percent of the population is non-European. The main religion in schools is Islam and 60 percent of the children are Arabs. I was in Morocco and saw well-raised, disciplined and educated people. They aren't like those good-for-nothings who can be found in Europe. The Socialists use these emigrants to meet their own ends as a powerful electorate. If you've spent three years in Belgium illegally, you can already apply for citizenship. Even if you don't know the language and are unemployed. When they give you an apartment, you have to sign a paper that says you'll do everything possible to learn the language in the future. And that's enough for them.
"I'm afraid of this Muslim emigration to Europe – not for myself, but for my children. The problem is so huge and the desire among leading politicians to regulate the issue is so small that the next generation will have to fix things with force. I can repeat the statement made by an English minister back in the 1960s, who warned about the catastrophic results of Muslim peoples emigrating to Europe: 'In the decades to come, I envisage rivers of blood!'"
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