Thursday, March 31, 2016

Answers about Belgium

Thanks, Ed! I understand that all the questions are complicated and would take much longer to answer. But your answers are very insightful.

1. Do Belgian citizens have confidence in law enforcement and domestic intelligence agencies when it comes to preventing further acts of terrorism?

I honestly do not know to what extent we have confidence in those services nowadays. The Dutroux scandal (pedophile and murderer) highlighted lots of issues with law enforcement and resulted in a complete re-organisation of police/gendarmerie forces, but that was 20 years ago.

2. Does the dysfunctional and divided government bear any responsibility for the recent bombings?

The government is accused of having ignored some alerts, nothing is clear so far. As in Paris in Nov. 2015, I do not think anybody could have imagined the size of the attack. Possibly the recent governments could be blamed for not having better prevented youngsters from radicalising and travelling to Syria/Iraq.

3. Why do the Flemish and Walloons dislike each other? Is it purely cultural? Economic? Something else?

How many hours do you have? Some people consider that the border between the latin world and the germanic one cross Belgium thus making Belgium a two-nation country. All along the short history of Belgium, there been tensions between the governing elite and the working class population, a shift in economic power ... so no easy answer. However, but the community issues are above all risen by politicians from both sides (yes, even political parties are community based), people are more preoccupied by having a job, a home, ... like everywhere else in the world

4. Will Belgium break up into two sovereign countries? When?

Who knows? Catalonia and Scotland may set an example.

5. Do Belgian companies and its military currently have any presence in its former African colonies?

Belgian companies operate worldwide and/or have international ownership. I do not reckon they have a privileged position in Congo, especially that they hit rough seas during the Zaire time. Concerning the military, Belgium mostly takes part in UN and EU missions, in general in support and training roles as the trauma of the Belgian blue helmets killed in Kigali in 1994 is still very present.

6. How integrated are Muslims in Belgium? Do they face significant discrimination? If so, in what ways?

Unfortunately, as in a lot of western European countries, Muslim people feel that they are not well integrated. In spite of the existing anti-discrimination legislation, it is a well known fact that people with arabic sounding names will find it more difficult to get a job, to rent a house ... of course that creates resentment for Muslim people born and bred in Belgium. To some extent it can be compared with the situation of the black population in the USA.

It is definitely not complete and only reflects my opinion, but I hope that helps. As mentioned, the tensions between Flemings and Francophones (technically Walloons are only one part of the French-speaking population) have existed since the birth of the country and could take days to explain. 

Concerning discrimination, I do not think the Belgian situation is very different from France, The Netherlands, ... and with the rise of ISIL and terror attacks in Europe I am afraid racism will also rise.

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