‘I am Flemish’ campaign launched to fight racism


The Minorities Forum has started a campaign to open the discussion about what ‘Flemish’ means following the well-publicised shocking responses to a recent Facebook post

Badge for profile pictures

Flanders’ Minorities Forum has launched a campaign to tackle racism, following racist reactions on a Facebook group’s post concerning the death of a teenager from Genk with Moroccan roots.

The campaign features photos of Flemish people of immigrant background with the text Ik ben Vlaming. Mag ik ook fier zijn? or “I am Flemish. Am I allowed to be proud of that?” The campaign, the forum said, aims to examine the question of Flemish identity.

Earlier in the month, the prosecutor’s office in Antwerp said that the owners of the Facebook page, which has since been taken down, would be appearing in court later this, following a legal complaint. The so-called Flemish Defence League posted the article about 15-year-old Ramzi Mohammed Kaddouri of Genk, who died in a quad accident while on holiday in Morocco.

“The reactions to the death of the young man show that there’s still a lot to be done before we arrive at a shared citizenship,” said Wouter Van Bellingen, director of the Minorities Forum. “There are various interpretations of the word ‘Flemish’. When do you become Flemish? How long do you have to live here? What colour of skin do you have to have? How many generations does it take?”

Before taking up his present position, Van Bellingen, born to Rwandan parents and adopted by a Flemish couple, had been the first municipal councillor with African roots. Following his appointment to civic affairs in Sint-Niklaas in 2007, however, three couples refused to allow him to perform their civil marriage ceremony, leading to a media storm and major public debate. Later, Van Bellingen carried out a mass wedding for 600 couples on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The campaign is particularly aimed at social media. Members of the public can add a badge to their own profile photos on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo courtesy Minderhedenforum