Paul Belien, Brussels Journal, April 26, 2006
In today’s edition, the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad writes that it has learned from its sources that the 16-year old boy who was arrested earlier this week for the murder of 17-year old Joe Van Holsbeeck, is called Marius. He belongs to a family of Polish gypsies who have been living in Belgium illegally since 2000. Marius was studying garage mechanics at a school in Anderlecht, a Brussels suburb, where he was arrested on Monday evening at 4:30 pm. His teachers had recognized him on the footage of security cameras in Brussels Central Station. Marius had already been involved in four cases of robbery and robbery with violence.
Marius’s accomplice, who according to Marius is the man who actually stabbed Joe when the latter did not hand over his MP3 player, had come over from Poland for the Easter holidays. He is also a minor but has since returned to Poland where the police is currently hunting for him.
If the story in Het Nieuwsblad is correct, one has to conclude that despite living in Belgium without official papers, Marius and his family had not been expelled by the authorities, not even after he started his career in crime. Last February, Belgium’s Cardinal Godfried Danneels called upon the Belgians to participate in a protest demonstration in favour of “people without official papers.” Paul Van den Berghe, the Bishop of Antwerp, even participated in the demonstration. After the Van Holsbeeck murder the Cardinal blamed the “indifference” of the Belgians, who, he said during his Easter sermon, had not interfered to stop Joe from being stabbed. The Cardinal also said that the murder was caused by the greed of Western society “where people get killed for an MP3 player.” Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt also blamed Belgian society for its indifference, while other politicians from the government parties blamed capitalism.
Yesterday and today leftist commentators and journalists—and even civil servants of the Belgian Justice Department—openly mocked the Catholic Church and conservative Catholics because Joe’s murderers have turned out to be Poles, countrymen of the former Pope, and not North Africans.
The Belgian authorities, who immediately after the murder had announced that the murderers were North Africans, have apologized to the North African community. Muslim organizations, however, are demanding formal apologies from politicians and journalists who, assuming that the official information of the Justice Department was correct, wrote about the problem of North African criminality in Brussels. Fouad Ahidar, a Moroccan-born member of parliament, had said that something urgently needed to be done about the Muslim street gangs. “There is a growing group of criminal Moroccan and Turkish youths who go after victims who look like infidels. We have to fight racism in all its varieties, whether by the immigrants or the native community,” he said.
Yesterday Laurette Onkelinx, the far-left Belgian minister of Justice, said that “those who have wrongly stigmatised an ethnic community will have to search their own consciences.” It is noteworthy, however, that the Vlaams Belang, the main opposition party and one with a firm stance on immigration and law and order, kept a low profile during the past two weeks. Its leaders hardly commented on the Van Holsbeeck case. Nevertheless, it looks as if the Van Holsbeeck case will turn into an opportunity for the leftwing Belgian regime to crack down on so-called “racists” and “islamophobes.” Today, in the Dutch newspaper Trouw, Glenn Audenaert of the Brussels federal police compared the criticism of North Africans in contemporary Belgium with the Nazi’s attacks on Jews by commenting: “Now I understand how anti-semitism was able to creep into our homes in the thirties.”