Monday, August 14, 2006

Europe Silences Another One

Paul BelienMany readers have emailed Gates of Vienna to express their dismay over the treatment of Paul Belien of The Brussels Journal.

I have sent the following letter to the Counselor for Political Affairs in Washington, expressing my dismay and sorrow at Belgium’s scapegoating of a loyal citizen.

We are fortunate to live in America, where we may still question authority, poke fun at the self-important, and warn others of what we see as dangers to our nation’s security and integrity. Those freedoms are disappearing in Europe.

The lights are going out again and this time there will be no one to rekindle them.

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France Chainaye
First Counselor, Political Affairs
Embassy of Belgium to the United States
france.chainaye@diplobel.be

Dear Counselor Chainaye,

As many others have done, I wish to register my objections to what is becoming overt and systematic harassment of M. Paul Belien of The Brussels Journal.

It is amazing to discover that an educated person is not permitted to school his or her children at home in Belgium - or at least he may not do so if he says or writes things with which his government disagrees. I cannot imagine how Belgium can call itself a democracy when it resorts to such petty tactics to silence its critics.

I have seen editorials in which M. Belien has been called names. I have read his posts describing his visits to the police station. And, sadly, I read what the Belgian cardinal said about M. Belien some months ago.

He has been blamed for any number of incidents that have no bearing on what he writes or believes and the obvious scapegoating is a black mark against Belgium’s record of tolerance.

Any democracy that silences its critics puts itself in jeopardy. A country which cannot tolerate dissent will eventually so circumscribe the limits of what is permitted to be said that it will no longer be recognizably a democracy. That is precisely what happened with your 1993 law on racism. It diminished Belgium and will continue to do so as long as it remains codified.

M. Belien is an asset to Belgium. He has a first-rate mind and his loyalty to his country is without question.

It is sad beyond words that in order to be able to practice any real free speech worthy of the name, this man - like Oriana Fallaci - will probably have to leave his country in order to be permitted to express his beliefs and principles. This will be Belgium’s and Europe’s loss; it will someone else’s gain. I do hope he chooses America as a refuge. He would be most welcome here.

History repeats its gloomy circuit, and the smart, the inventive, the people with energy and initiative are leaving the continent in droves. As you well know, Antwerp and Brussels are both experiencing a decline in their native population. And the population in general is ageing.

Unfortunately, your country has chosen this path and it seems nothing will deter it. As you no doubt well understand, those like M. Belien will continue to leave until you have a huge pyramid of ageing, retired people while the young will have fled to greener, freer pastures.

M. Belien may have come to regret his prophetic role - a prophet is often without honor in his own country. However, he has done Belgium a service by speaking out. Those who fear dissent will silence him, and we will bear witness to that.

Respectfully,
Dymphna (of Gheel)
Gates of Vienna Blog

14 comments:

ScottSA said...

Well done.

ScottSA said...

I'll just add that the list of Belgian embassies worldwide can be found here, for anyone wanting to do the same: http://www.diplomatie.be/ottawa/default.asp?id=4&mnu=4

sausage sommelier said...

As so many great men of history, he has exceptional facial hair.

We'll see how many of his fellow citizens fancy dying for a culture of dessert and "ever closer union."

sausage sommelier said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sausage sommelier said...

Europeans will have to learn that democracy is a bloody affair, foremost and inevitably. Then they'll have to learn that the pretty trappings of power have obligations other than Eurobarometer polls and blocking mergers of American companies.

Hear that, Belgium? You've bandwagoned upon the entrails of American virtue, not only that spilled on your soil a half century ago but also the brave stuff that stood guard against a menace you've grown to fancy. And now that transatlantic arrangement is desecrated and discarded by silly droves, as much waify and fashionable as Islamic and dastardly.

Your people neither understand democratic governance or the responsibilities expected of those who serve it. Prove an American wrong and take to the streets, you timid subjects, you "citizens of the European Union." History creeps across your map like a sequence of plagues, sprung to consume the maddened and foolish lot of you. Your laws swaddle you, but swaddled are all the Muslim playthings...

Good night, Belgium, may this Century preserve your waffles in American coffee table books.

Phanarath said...

Good letter.

Evan said...

Dymphna, I read elsewhere about someone who sent a letter to the Belgian embassy in DC and got a reply. Could you post any reply you receive?

ScottSA said...

evan: I know BJ posted a reply here: http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1253

Dymphna said...

evan,

I doubt I'll hear from them. I sure wish all of you guys would write, too. The email is in the post.

I sent a copy to Paul Belien today.

John Sobieski said...

Here is the reply I received to my email to the Brussels embassy in Washington. Read and weep for the dhimmis in Brussels if you even care for a culture committing suicide willingly.

From : Geert Criel Geert.Criel@diplobel.org
Sent : Monday, August 14, 2006 11:36 AM
To : John Sobieski
Subject : FW: Brussels Journal Bog



Dear Sir:

In response to your mail I wanted to inform you that Belgium is a democracy in which the freedom of expression and a free press are guaranteed by the constitution and the legal system.

However, expressions of racism are a punishable offense in Belgium. An Act of Parliament created the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism in 1993. A task of the Centre is to promote equality of opportunity and combat any form of distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, skin color, descent, origin or nationality. The Centre offers the possibility to internet users to complain about the racist content of web sites. These complaints are evaluated in a serious manner. Most cases are solved through giving information or through setting up a mediation process. Only in a small number of cases, the Center proceeds to legal action. More information on this program is to be found on http://www.cyberhate.be .

The Belgian government and people oppose manifestations of racism and intolerance and intend to fight these through education and the application of the law. For further information on issues regarding racism in Belgium you can go to the following web site: http://www.antiracisme.be/.


I remain at your disposal for further information.


Best regards.

Geert Criel
Minister Counselor
Embassy of Belgium
3330 Garfield Street, NW
Washington DC 20008
Tel: (202) 6255868
Fax: (202) 6257567



-----Original Message-----
From: John Sobieski
Sent: maandag 14 augustus 2006 2:21
To: Reception
Subject: Brussels Journal Bog

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing to ask you to support the Brussels Journal blog from being shut down because some in Belgium political world want to suppress free speech. The Brussels Journal is insightful and to the point about the problems in Europe. It threatens no one. Just because politicians do not like what is written there about the EU and the ilamisation of Europe, must you shut it down and suppress the opinions therein?

I urge you to support free speech and allow the Brussels Journal blog to continue unharassed by the government.

Sincerely,

John Sobieski

Yorkshireminer said...

Do not forget that the flams Belang party has nearly 30% of the votes in the flemish part of the country one day they will win a majoriety and then you will see the cat among the pigeons .

Evan said...

@John Sobieski:

John, the letter you got and the one linked in scottsa's post are the same. It appears to be a canned response. Perhaps this suggests they are getting a lot of letters.

Old Peculier said...

What a very strange facial hair arrangement.

urah2222 said...

Mark My Words Carefully-

THERE WILL be NO BELGIUM before Paul Belien leaves this Mortal Coil. Belgium is being divided on an ethnic/linguistic
basis. NOT a good situation for any Nation. Vive le Paul!

Dr. Shalit