Fascists in Belgium – they’re not far-right racists but Muslims!

Vlaams BelangThe Wall Street Journal carries a piece by Bret Stephens reporting favourably on developments in the Belgian far-right party Vlaams Belang (formerly the Vlaams Blok, which officially dissolved itself in 2004 after being convicted of inciting racial hatred). Noting that the party has a history of Nazi sympathies and Holocaust denial, Stephens adds:

“But that’s changing. Younger party leaders, realizing their anti-Semitic taint was poison, began making pro-Israel overtures. And the party’s tough-on-crime, hostile-to-Muslims stance began to attract a considerable share of the Jewish vote, particularly among Orthodox Antwerp Jews who felt increasingly vulnerable in the face of the city’s hostile Muslim community. Today, Vlaams Belang is the largest single party in the country.”

Stephens continues: “Meanwhile, the real fascists in Belgium are gaining strength, largely protected from scrutiny by the country’s ‘anti-racism’ legislation. At Brussels’s Imam Reza mosque, a preacher commemorated the 17th anniversary of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s death: ‘The enemies cannot extinguish the light of the Islamic Revolution.’ And in Molenbeek, the newspaper Het Volk published a study of the local Muslim population: The editor, Gunther Vanpraet, described the commune as ‘a breeding ground for thousands of Jihad candidates’.”

Wall Street Journal, 22 August 2006