Category Archives: Belgium

Illegal Immigrants On Hunger Strike In Belgium

Groups of illegal immigrants in Belgium have resorted to hunger strikes because their applications for residency have not been granted. A doctor warned the condition of many was now entering a serious stage. The immigrants come from a wide range of the world including African nations, Brazil, and Iran. Many of them are either waiting to hear about their request for residency or have been rejected and face deportation to possible dangerous situations. On Tuesday, seventy immigrants accepted a deal under which they secured ninety day visas in return for ending the hunger strikes. Their protests have spurred church organizations and human rights groups to urge the Belgium government to grant a blanket immunity and allow them to obtain a visa. Belgium last granted such an amnesty in 2000.

As always in these situations, right wing groups want firm action and accuse the government of being soft on illegal immigrants whom they consider to be criminals. The world is witnessing a vast migration of people and the situation will become even more prevalent as European nations age and lack young people to do the work necessary in modern societies.

Belgian Women Encounter Workplace Discrimination

There is a growing feeling among many people in Europe that old fashioned discrimination against women or gays belongs to the past and in the modern world there increasingly is a commitment to equality regardless of race, age, gender or ethnicity. However, a recent report from the Institute For Equality Between Men And Women(IEBMWW) reveals the number of claims of workplace discrimination based on pregnancy has doubled in the past year. More pregnant women are facing old fashioned discrimination because of their decision to have a child and remain working. In one out of seven reported cases, discrimination was directly linked to issues relating to pregnancy, giving birth or motherhood.

According to Patrick Verraes of IEBMWW, many employers simply ignore the law and proceed with their discriminatory practices. “They don’t want to incur extra costs by taking on a replacement and assume that a woman with children is less focussed on her job.” he believes there is need for additional legislation to combat discrimination against women who seek to work and have a family.

Are Belgian Youth Exceptionally Materialistic?

A recent survey of about 1,762 Belgian youth between the ages of 12-24 revealed the type of information all such surveys generally report in modern times– youth are pampered and materialistic. The poll did highlight contemporary youth spend a great deal of time on the Internet, and, in the case of Belgian young people that is a daily occurence for 86%. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of Belgian young people obtain information about the world from the Internet rather than from print media. About 87% own a computer and 67% have a lap top while 47% own a game console.

Like most youth in the past as well as in the present, the majority want to own a home, get married and have children and live the good life. Youth has always been criticized by the adult world for some sort of misbehavior. Of course, the adults making the charges are the former adolescents

Illegal Immigrants Strike In EU

Nearly 240 illegal immigrants went on a hunger strike as the European Union’s 27 member states were putting the final touches on a new document which allows governments to detain illegal immigrants for up to 18 months and then prevent them from re-entering the EU for up to five years. The illegals are bunkered down in a church in Brussells while not far away EU officials are prepared to tell them they are not welcome and must leave. A man named Mohad from Algeria said he has been on the hunger strike snce May 8 and already had spent nearly two years in a migrant detention camp located in the Netherlands. “The European Community is not human,” was his plaintive comment.

Most of the migrants complained about being treated like criminals even though their only desire is for work and to be a productive human. At present, the cap in nations like Spain is 40 days and in Belgium it is eight months so the proposed legislation would allow immigrants to be detained much longer than most existing laws by member nations.

An EU spokesperson put it honestly about the attitude toward illegal immigrants: “If they arrive here, it’s not going to be paradise.” It is doubtful if any illegal immigrant seeks paradise, but how about an opportunity to work hard?

Turkey Upset At Belgium Failure To Convict Terrorists

The Turkish government responded with anger at failure of Belgian courts to convict seven terrorists who belonged to the Revolutiionairy People’s Liberation Party. The group is on the European Union terror list and Turkey wanted them to receive extended sentences, but the court merely convicted them of lesser charges related to possession of firearms and having false documents. Belgium’s Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht pointed out, “Statements saying that Belgian justice authorities helped terrorism are totally unacceptable.”

The entire issue of how do nations deal with terror “suspects” should begin by focusing on the word “suspect.” Part of the problem in handling terror “suspects” is the abuse of the Bush administration which imprisons people, refuses to place them on trial and insists the fact they were arrested is in itself proof of their guilt. This blog does not know if the Belgian court acted correctly, but supports the importance of courts dealing with facts rather than fears. We must move away from the American policy that individuals can be arrested and imprisoned for long periods of time without any recourse to justice. If someone is a terrorist, then place them on trial and get them convicted on the basis of evidence. That is the best strategy of dealing with terrorism.

Turmoil Continues In Pakistan As Taliban Storms Fort

The confusing twisting tale of Pakistan continues as the Taliban stormed a fort on the frontier and allegedly killed 15 Frontier Corps(FC) soldiers and captured about 24. A source told the Lahore Daily Times that seven of the captives has their throats slit by Taliban victors. The Pakistan army claims it killed forty militants and that 15 men escaped from Sararougha Fort with several others still missing. On the political scene the situation is also confusing. Pakistan Peoples Party leader Asif Ali Zardari insisted there would be no power sharing with President Musharraf and his party intended to gain victory in the upcoming election despite difficulties placed in their path by a corrupt government. He refused to take the “crumbs of power from a dictator’s table. We will take our rightful share of power uner the constitution after a free and fair election.” When asked if he would cooperate with the Musharraf government after the election, Zardari responded it was a hypothetical question that could not be answered at the present time. Nazwaz Sharif, head of the PML-Q who agreed to work with the PPP urged creation of a national unity government with Musharraf.

At this point, no one knows what will happen in Pakistan other than the apparent certainty fighting will increase against the growing power of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The political situation will most probably end in some sort of compromise government which entails working with President Musharraf. The more important factor is increased attacks upon government positions in northwest regions by Taliban and al-Qaeda forces. Pakistan created these forces to fight India and to take over Afghanistan and now must live with its own legacy of violence which has turned upon its own creators.

Bel-Gium Is Dividing As A Nation

Belgium’s chances of surviving as a unified nation took a serious blow when Yves Leterme the Flemish Christian Democrat leader, abandoned his efforts to create a government and told King Albert the situation was hopeless. Belgium has been without an effective government since June. He admitted being unable to bridge differences between the Dutch-spoeaking Flemish and the francophone Walloon communities. The more prosperous northern region of Flanders is pushing for autonomy– or even becoming a new nation– while the less successful southern area of Wallonia wants to continue the nation of Belgium. Leterme demanded power to reform the federal structure and give more power to Flanders in order to appease Flemish separatism, an action that angered his Christian Democrat counterparts in Wallonia who want a strong central government. A vote in Parliament which stripped French speaking voters living in three historically Flemish communities on the edge of Brussels from voting for French-speaking parties.

Dutch and French speakers do not communicate with one another. They watch different TV stations, read different newspapers, and sent heir children to different schools and universities. There are not even national political parties since there are things like a Flemish Christian Democrat Party and a Walloon Christian Democrat Party. During early stages of the industrial revolution when coal and iron were important, the Walloons were the wealthier people, but since technology has become dominant, wealth has flowed toward the Flemish area of the nation. Leterme has been trying to get a constitutional convention which would undoubtedly result in splitting a nation that was created by European powers in 1830.

Belgium Disintegrating Over Language And Culture

The country of Belgium has been without benefit of an effective government since parliamentary elections in June gave the Flemish speaking parties a majority. Belgium is essentially two separate areas – a Flemish speaking north and a French speaking south. Historically, the French speaking Walloon area was the economic dynamo of the nation due to its coal mines and factories. But, since Belgium became more of a high tech society, the more technology driven Flanders area has grown in wealth to the extent it pays a higher proportion of taxes and subsidizes Walloonia. A fight broke out when the Flemish tried carving out a Flemish speaking parliament district in Brussells where people of both backgrounds live. Neither side wants to budge and inch so the government is paralyzed.

Belgium is an excellent example of what happens when a society containing diverse people fails to develop multicultural education programs. People are so caught up in being Flemish or a person from Walloon that neither side is able to allow a Belgian identify to supersede regional feelings. America is a country that has been able to overcome these sectional divisions once the Civil War ended any hope the South might remain a separate nation.