Belgian Website Solicits Reports of Illegal Immigrants
The Flemish Interest Party, a far-right Belgian political party, has set up a website for people to report illegal immigrants who work on the black market or are said to be abusing Belgium’s social security system. The purpose of the “Hotline Illegality” website is to curb illegal immigration, says Filip Dewinter of the Flemish Interest Party, which is notorious for its anti-Islam and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Anti-racism activists have condemned the website and say its tactics are comparable to those of the Nazis, says Agence France-Presse (via The Vancouver Sun).
Dewinter, who has accused the Belgian government of not doing enough to curb illegal immigration, says that acts reported on the website will be passed onto the police.
Jozef De Witte, director of the Centre for Equality and Struggle Against Racism, told Radio 1 that the Flemish website is “illegal” and that it “was reminiscent of measures taken by the Nazis in the 1930s or the East German secret police during the Cold War.” Immigrants comprise about 9 percent of Belgian’s population with the majority from Morocco and Turkey, says the International Organization for Migration.
In the Netherlands, the Dutch Freedom Party had set up a similar website, “Report Middle and Eastern Europeans,” to track illegal immigrants by having people report if they had been “annoyed by noise, drunkenness or squalor associated with migrant workers or lost jobs to them. The website set off an “international outcry,” says the Los Angeles Times, and has been condemned as “deplorable” by the European Parliament. Last week, the Dutch Parliament voted to condemn the website but Prime Minister Mark Rutte, despite being encouraged by the European Parliament, has declined to condemn it. Agence France-Presse points out that he relies on support from the Dutch Freedom Party to maintain his majority in the Netherlands’ 150-seat lower house.
Olivier Bailly, aspokesman for the European Union, said that such websites “do not correspond to the values that we defend.” But rather than offering a unified statement about such websites’ xenophobic message, the executive branch of the EU has left it to national governments to decide whether to take action against the sites.
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