Brussels: The Ghettos of Brussels

Brussels: The Ghettos of Brussels

A couple of weeks ago the leader of the Dutch green party spoke critically of how Islam is affecting her multicultraul neighborhood. Now it's the turn of a Flemish parliament member for the Groen! party, Luckas Vander Taelen, who wrote an editorial in De Staandard about the situation in his own neighborhood.

Brussels: The Ghettos of Brussels

I live next to a neighborhood in Vorst, from the Merodestraat to the Brussels-South station (Gare du Midi/Zuidstation), that even with the most multicultural bias you can't describe as anything but a ghetto.

My daughter long ago gave on on going into that neighborhood. For she's too often just called many bad things . I bike through there every day and experience more and more a different adventure. Double parked cars, drivers who block a junction in order to speak with each other, youth hanging about who look at you as if you've entered their private domain.

In particular don't try to say anything if you're run over again: the last time I did that, a bystander not even 16 years old heaped abuse on me, and ended his insulting tirade with a message that I won't translate: 'Nique ta mère.' [fuck off] That was not as bad as the previous time, when another young Magrebian driver felt insulted by my behavior: I had dared to take my right of way. His honor was so offended that he could apparently only rectify that by spitting in my face...

Thus: keep silent. Because if you try to make it clear that 70 km an hour is too fast in a 30 zone, then you immediately have a right to a confrontation with the sense of honor of a young new-Belgian who can't have somebody forbidding him anything, and who is ready to punch you for it.

Twenty years ago I was convinced that the young new-Belgians would quickly be assimilated. But now a generation of rebels without a cause grew up in Brussels who always feel offended and wronged. Never responsible for anything, it's always the fault of somebody else: of the government, of the racist Belgians. And also within their own families the young Maghrebian men remain unassailable. When the police in Molenbeek arrested a boy, the father immediately organized a protest because his son 'wouldn't even steal an apple'.

The efforts of the government in the problem-neighborhoods ensured that the youth don't feel the need to leave them, an ULB study showed last year. Thus you create the confines of a village in the big city.

A daughter of Moroccan friends has a Belgian friend. She never goes out with him in the neighborhood, since they'll be immediately jeered at. Because almost all the young immigrants may have Belgian citizenship, they don't have any identification with this country. On the contrary: 'Belgian' is a curse-word...

Indeed, you never see young women alone in the neighborhood. And certainly not in the cafes: there they're not even tolerated. When a worker of the municipality asked for a coffee there, it was quickly made clear to her that she shouldn't count on being served. When I bike into the Merode-neighborhood, I know that far past the Zuidstation, I won't see one woman on a cafe terrace. And I don't need to speak about the double sexual morals which are still expected from young immigrant women, that they'll demonstrate their virginity during the wedding night, though everybody knows that Brussels hospitals restore the hymen with a simple operation.

A renowned French-Moroccan artist displayed a remarkable work exhibit in Brussels till last week: a row of prayer rugs with shoes. The art gallery immediately received threatening calls, the glass in front of the artwork was spat at and damaged. the commotion arose because by one prayer carpet you could see red women's heels. The artist wanted to raise in this way 'the place of the woman in Islam'. But that isn't allowed anymore in Brussels: after a couple of days the artwork was removed.

Maybe we should ask ourselves once how it happens that we accepted that principles such as the freedom of the artist and equal rights for men and women don't hold for everybody in this country. Why don't we dare stand up for what is really essential: respect for the laws and values of the land where we live? A headscarf ban is no solution. But maybe we should consider how can assertively make clear that we dare defend what we think important?

It was to the credit of the Left to ask for more attention for discrimination and the social gap. The problem is sadly deeper: we were afraid to force our values on immigrants. Those values are really too dear for me to forfeit them.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

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