Thursday, September 06, 2007

«Belgian» Muslims Better Integrated Than Thought

Executieve van de Moslims in BelgiëWhile the mainstream media are trying to prove through some strange polls that Belgians don't want to break-up Belgium, Muslims are proving they're so well integrated into Belgian society that the Flemish Muslims want to break up the Muslim Executive of Belgium because of a huge corruption scandal involving its French-speaking vice-president Kissi Benjelloul.

On Tuesday, Flemish public television (VRT) published the results of a poll showing that 70% of Belgians don't want a break-up Belgium. However, if we zoom in on the results, it turns out that the results are quite different in the North and the South of Belgium: 91% of the Walloons, quite understandably, want to keep Belgium together, but almost 40% of the Flemings wouldn't mind if Belgium were put to an end today. It's true that this means that on the average, 70% of the Belgians don't favor a break-up, but that figure is of course enormously misleading. Furthermore, even though VRT points out that there isn't a majority for separatism in Flanders (yet?), I wonder whether they really think such high figures can be considered to be normal at all.

Ironically, while Belgium is going through one of its worst existential crises, the Muslim population is proving it is much better integrated into Belgian society than previously thought. The Muslim immigrants, many of them holding the Belgian nationality thanks to mass naturalization laws and practices, have always been considered to be the last hope of Belgium. If there have never been Belgians but only Flemings and Walloons, as Jules Destrée pointed out 95 years ago, why not make some Belgians out of those immigrants, the motto seemed to be, especially in Brussels where they could join and support the local French-speaking majority. Now it turns out that even these immigrants aren't Belgians, but only Flemish Muslims and Walloon Muslims, to such a degree that one could start to wonder whether maybe the Muslim Executive is infiltrated by a separatist group that's trying to prove a point.

Take on the one side the French-speaking vice-president of the Muslim Executive, Kissi Benjelloul. Currently he's under the investigation of the police for trying to cover up debts using fake invoices issued by the restaurant Le Caire. Apparently the Muslim Executive let the restaurant bill invoices for an amount of about 15,000 euro for all sorts of things. It's not the first time Kissi Benjelloul attracted the attention of the police: last December he had to spend a night in jail because of abuse of government money. Seems like he would fit well in Charleroi's municipal council, half or more of its (socialist) members being in jail or soon to be because of various corruption scandals.

The other side is represented by the imam and council member Taouil Nordine. He was quoted saying that the Muslim Executive isn't taking its responsibility in this matter, thus ruining the Muslims' image. «The Flemish Muslim community is furious because of this. We don't want to have anything to do with those Walloon corrupt people any more.» He's lucky he's a Muslim though, because otherwise he would already have been qualified as a racist for making such remarks.

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