- Title: BELGIUM: A BELGIAN COURT HAS UPELD A RULING BRANDING THE VLAAMS BLOK PARTY RACIST
- Date: 9th November 2004
- Summary: (U6) BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (NOVEMBER 9, 2004) (REUTERS) 1. SLV/SV OF LEADERS OF FAR RIGHT PARTY 'VLAAMS BLOK' ARRIVING AT THE BRUSSELS SUPREME COURT OF APPEALS (4 SHOTS) 0.33 2. PAN/SV COURT/ LEADERS OF VLAAMS BLOK SITTING IN COURT ROOM (2 SHOTS) 0.43 3. SV JOURNALISTS LISTENING TO JUDGE 0.50 4. SLV COURT 0.56 5. CU CAMERAMAN 1.01 6. MCU (Dutch) JUDGE EDWARD FORIER READING COURT RULING, SAYING: "In my function to examine the decision for penalty, taking in to account that the substantial means of justice have been respected, we took a decision according to the law. Taking into account all these arguments, the court rejects the appeals and condemns the plaintiffs to the costs of their appeal." 1.24 7. MCU AUDIENCE LISTENING TO RULING 1.28 8. LV JUDGE LEAVING COURTROOM 1.33 9. SV/CU MEDIA/VLAAMS BLOK LEADER FRANK VANHECKE LEAVING THE COURTROOM (2 SHOTS) 1.55 10. SV LAWYERS IN COURTROOM 2.00 11. MCU (English) VLAAMS BLOK LEADER FILIP DEWINTER REACTING TO THE RULING, SAYING: "We are condemned, so we have to organise, to found a new party and we will do that on Sunday. (Reporter asks whether the events will strenghten the far right.) Certainly, because of the fact that everybody in this country and all over Europe thinks that the freedom of speech is very important. I already said it in Dutch, in the Netherlands they killed the freedom of speech by means of bullets, in this country, they killed the freedom of speech in court." 2.31 (U6) ANTWERP, BELGIUM (FILE - NOVEMBER 1992) (REUTERS) 12. LV/SV DEWINTER VICTORIOUS AT VLAAMS BLOK RALLY (2 SHOTS) 2.37 13. PAN VLAAMS BLOK FANS APPLAUDING AND WAVING FLAGS (3 SHOTS) 2.54 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 24th November 2004 12:00
- Location: BRUSSELS AND ANTWERP, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Reuters ID: LVAD9FJVZUBPOKA3V4PCQVUFX4NS
- Story Text: A Belgian court has upheld a ruling branding the
Vlaams Blok party racist.
A top Belgian court on Tuesday (November 9) upheld a
ruling branding the Vlaams Blok party racist, forcing the
hard-right Flemish nationalist group to change its name and
statutes to make a clean break with its past.
The Blok, which espouses anti-immigrant views and
campaigns for the independence of Flanders, is the
Dutch-speaking region's biggest party by parliamentary
seats after winning 24 percent of the vote in regional
elections last June.
But it is locked out of local and regional government
by a so-called "cordon sanitaire" under which all the
mainstream parties refuse to deal with it, even in its
stronghold in the port city of Antwerp, where it holds one
third of the vote.
An appeals court ruled in April that three associations
linked to the Blok had breached the country's anti-racism
laws by supporting a party engaged in ethnic or racial
Faced with the likelihood of losing crucial state
funding and being banned from the media, the party filed an
But the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the ruling,
saying freedom of speech could be curbed in a democracy in
order to protect the rights of others or safeguard national
security and public order.
"The court rejects the appeals," Judge Edward Forier
said in reading a lengthy verdict to a packed courtroom.
Frank Vanhecke, president of Vlaams Blok, told
reporters he was shocked at the ruling, saying the judge
applied legislation reminescant of the former communist
states in eastern Europe.
Vanhecke said the party would very likely go to the
European Court of Human Rights but such a move would not
suspend the verdict.
Vlaams Blok co-leader Filip Dewinter was furious,
comparing the verdict to last week's murder of Theo Van
Gogh, whose criticism of Islam angered Muslims. A
26-year-old Dutch-Morrocan was charged with his murder.
"In the Netherlands they killed freedom of speech by
means of bullets, in this country they killed it in a
court," Dewinter said.
The Blok has nevertheless prepared itself for the
outcome and is set to reinvent itself under a slightly
modified name: the Vlaams Belang, Dutch for Flemish
Interest. The party carried the name of Vlaams Blok for
over 26 years, since its creation in 1978.
But Vanhecke said a final decision on whether to
soldier on as the Vlaams Blok or translate political
Flemish nationalism into a new party would be taken in the
next few days.
On Saturday, its members already voted to modernise the
party's statutes and tone down its views on immigration,
saying non-European immigrants wishing to remain in Belgium
should adopt Belgian rules and values.
The Blok had previously advocated returning the bulk of
non-European immigrants to their home country.
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