Sunday, October 29, 2006

Paris Burning, Brussels Smoldering

These last few days, there have been some «small fires» –small indeed– in the Brussels area, but today the fire-brigade was lured into an ambush in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek. There were no casualties, but apparently we'll have to see a few dead before it will be possible to reflect seriously on what's really going on in Brussels. Authorities didn't want to confirm a connection to the fires in Paris, but didn't dare to deny it either.

From the events of today and the last few days it is clear that things are getting out of control in some parts of Brussels. When even the fire-brigade becomes the target of these «youngsters», as they are usually called in the Belgian press, the conclusion can only be that it's already five past twelve, not alone in Paris, but in Brussels too.

Surely, one can argue that the identity checks by the police are not always completely justified, and sometimes too frequent, but I find it hard to believe that the immigrants could have any reason at all to throw rocks at firemen who are just trying to do their job. If this continues, people will die sooner or later, and then the fire-brigade's latent racism will of course be blamed for not having gotten some Moroccan family out of its burning house quickly enough, or extinguished the fire in an apartment block, or something else that went terribly wrong. Therefore, sociologists and other professional anti-racists, otherwise always keen enough to give us their opinion about what's going wrong in the immigrant districts, should give us their explanation rather today than tomorrow about what the fire-brigade has done to deserve being targeted like it was this afternoon, and why youngster are allowed to play with other people's lives like this.