Sunday, May 30, 2004

Larry F. wrote: “Michael, what are the chances of you starting your own "talk-radio" show in Flanders?”

Zilch Larry. The following is a story about a fellow who had a talk-radio show of his own (scroll down till you get to "Kritishe talkshow afgevoerd"). I’m talking about Jurgen Verstrepen, whose show “Zwart of Wit” (Black or White) was broadcast every Sunday afternoon on Radio Contact and LibertyTV. The motto of his talkshow was “Freedom of Speech by all means”. The show gave, a.o., a voice to the many disgruntled Belgians living in Brussels or Antwerp neighborhoods with a majority of foreigners. Sometime in February, Radio Contact decided not to broadcast the show anymore, and LibertyTV stated that it does want to cooperate further with Mr. Verstrepen, but only when non-political issues are treated. I might add that Mr. verstrepen’s talkshow’s format followed a pattern which seems to be popular in the States: a multitude of telephonic interventions by listeners, followed by anitmated studio discussions with a political panel.

This is the second time that Mr. Verstrepen’s voice is stifled: the previous version of his show, broadcast on Kanaal2 and TopRadio, was suspended in 2001. Here’s a comment on that by NRC Handelsblad, which is a widely respected Dutch newspaper (yes, the news was important enough to be reported in The Netherlands): “But Verstrepen also writes political commentaries on an Internet newssite. Or rather: wrote. Because he’s stopped with that just lately. There was pressure on him, he says, by the Prime Minister’s circle. If Verstrepen should continue with his “shitty business in those columns”, so he was assured by left and right, then “the Prime Minister would make sure not a single political authority would appear in his TV show”.

Anyway, Mr. Verstrepen apparently had to shut up for introducing people on a radio show who dared to say that immigrants should assimilate and that if not they could return. Somewhere in March Mr. Verstrepen joined the Vlaams Blok, a Flemish nationalistic party which the political establishment over here demonises as “extreme right” but which has an agenda that has actually quite a few similarities to the one of the Republican Party in the States. Some of you may remember that I actually joined the Vlaams Blok back in February, because all other parties had agreed to grant the right to non-Belgian immigrants to vote in municipal elections (which implies that if you happen to live as a Belgian in a neighbourhood with a majority of, say, Moroccans or Tunisians, you’re likely to see your tax euros go to a new mosque rather than to that desperately needed municipal playground.


The photo shows him during the press-conference, where he was sided by Filip Dewinter and Frank Vanhecke, leading figures of the Vlaams Blok. Behind him you can just make out part of the slogan “13 juni, een kwestie van vrije meningsuiting” (June 13, a matter of Free Speech), the motto under which the Vlaams Blok participates in the upcoming June 13 European elections.

But alas, Mr. Verstrepen again had no luck. Hardly had he joined the ranks of the Vlaams Blok, or, surprise: the Court of Appeal in Ghent ruled that the Vlaams Blok was a racist organization (arrest from April 2004). To be sure, the Vlaams Blok welcomes any immigrant who wants to integrate in our society, i.e. that he/she learns our language, behaves like agood citizen and contributes to our wealth. Non-assimilating ones should return or stay home, simply put. Anyway, for having had the audacity to say that, the Vlaams Blok was rewarded with the (heavy) fining of three of its supporting organizations, and steps are now being taken to make the distribution of Party publications, leaflets etc… via the Belgian Postal System impossible. In a later stadium the financing of the Party by the state (in Belgium political parties receive a donation from the state) will be suspended – although that may take some years yet. Find out more about the story on Stephen Pollard's blog: I've seen the future: it's scary and it's Belgian. Recommended reading.

Interesting to note that the Vlaams Blok threatens to be declared a criminal organization while the Antwerp-based Arab European League, led by former Hezbollah member Dyab Abu Jahjah, can freely threaten the Antwerp Jewish-owned Diamond Sector with bomb attacks by Hamas.

They also wanted to get a militant Pakistani cleric with al-Qaeda ties to Antwerp to give a speech, but luckily the guy intended to visit The Netherlands first. As could be expected the Dutch government refused the fucker a visa, upon which the Belgian government was somehow able to muster sufficient courage to do the same. But only barely. Hear the AEL whine about the affair over here.

This is Belgium Larry. No, I'm not gonna start a radio talk show.

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