James Crisp, Telegraph, September 7, 2018
Belgium has been faced with a reckoning over racism in the country, after two major scandals in a single week.
On Thursday a youth movement that appeared to champion traditional Flemish Conservative values was exposed as a cover for a far right anti-Semitic group that was plotting to infiltrate Dutch-speaking mainstream political parties.
In an unrelated case, a black weather presenter on the lead French-language broadcaster revealed she is regularly targeted with racist abuse in a tearful video posted online.
The Schild en Vreinden group was seen as Flemish nationalist but still respectable until an investigation by broadcaster VRT revealed that its closed online discussion groups were rife with anti-Semitic hate speech and imagery.
The exposé also revealed the group planned to take over conventional political groups such as the Flemish Youth Council and hoped to stand in local elections for the N-VA, which is Belgium’s most popular party and a member of the ruling coalition led by Charles Michel, the prime minister.
Belgium’s leading French language broadsheet covered both stories on its front page on Friday under the headline “racism must not pass”.
Mr Michel condemned both Schild en Vrienden, which translates as Shield and Friends, and the racism suffered by Cécile Djunga, who appears on the RTBF station and is also a stand-up comic.
Miss Djunga posted a video on Facebook after she received a complaint that she “was too black to be on television”.
The video of the tearful presenter, who explains she spoke out because too many Belgians believe racism does not exist in their country, went viral and has now been viewed nearly 2 million times.
Speaking at the annual gala of a Belgian Jewish group on Thursday night, Mr Michel said, “I’m going to instruct the National Security Council to strengthen the operational instruments for fighting anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia”.
“We cannot accept the launching of insulting and hateful messages at a presenter based on the colour of her skin,” the leader of the francophone Liberal party said.
“We cannot accept the revelations of this reportage yesterday on a television channel exposing the abject behaviour of a group of individuals.”