Antwerp: What about the Jews?

Antwerp Muslim politician Hicham El Mzairh accuses the Jews of a lack of integration. The reason is the Jewish protest against the presence of the book 'Hitlers handlangers' (Hitler's Accomplices) in the shop window of an antique-book shop in Antwerp.

The book has been removed in the meantime, but the discussion is just beginning.

The presence of the (completely uncontroversial) book in the shop windows caused indignation especially by older Jews. They thought that this book should not be praised too prominently in a neighborhood where many Jews live. The shop owner has meanwhile removed the book from the shop-window and wants no further controversy about it.

Hicham El Mzairh does go into the discussion in an open letter and speaks of hypocrisy. "How does it fit with the integration of the Jewish community in Antwerp?" he writes, "They may build their own schools with concrete barricades. But oh vey if a Muslim dares say that he has plans for an Islamic school."

"Why should I continue dedicating myself for integration of Muslims, if the whole political world in Flanders is hypocritical about the integration of another group because nobody, so to say, is troubled by them?"

"I expect much criticism," responds El Mazairh when contacted, "But it's about the integration debate. For that matter I'm also critical about the lack of integration within the Muslim community."

He says some politicians use two different standards. "They fear of being blamed of being antisemitic. How can I sell my story about integration in mosques and associations if I stay silent about the Jews? In the past I've been threatened by Muslims and extreme-right wingers for my standpoints. Being silent is not an option because then I'll be guilty of hypocrisy."

The chief editor of the Jewish monthly Joods Actueel, Michael Freilich, thinks that El Mzairh should first become acquainted with the issues, before carrying on about it. "Several elderly Jews had trouble with the cover of the book. These people have yet been through the camps, and such a book calls up memories. That is all," says Freilich.

According to the Jewish journalist it wouldn't be bad if El Mzairh and the Muslim community would be taught about the holocaust. "The aren't acquainted with the Jewish sensitives."

Source: Gazet van Antwerpen h/t Habdelhay's blog

See also: Brussels: Muslim schools

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