Flemish politicians threatened with physical violence

Summary

Police reports have been filed this week in two cases of threats levied against ministers in the Flemish and Brussels regional governments

‘We are going to eliminate her’

The Flemish justice minister and the Brussels mobility minister have both received threats of physical violence this week. Police reports have been filed in both cases.

Zuhal Demir (N-VA) received an email in response to her recent Facebook post about mosques run by the Diyanet – Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs. The Flemish justice minister (pictured left) referred to them as “the long arm of Erdogan” and “the antennaes of the Erdogan regime”. Her post was in response to diversity minister Bart Somer’s recent announcement about the recognition of religious communities.

A message was delivered to her cabinet in Turkish and threatened the minister with rape if she didn’t keep quiet about the mosques. The police are taking the threat very seriously and have started an investigation to try to identify the sender. A police patrol is keeping an eye on Demir’s home.

Elke Van den Brandt (pictured right), meanwhile, was the target of threatening comments by members of the Facebook group L’automobiliste en a marre (Motorists are fed up). As a member of the Groen party, the minister of mobility in the Brussels-Capital region is not always popular among motorists.

This is simply unacceptable – whether levied at average citizens, activists or politicians

“We are going to eliminate her,” read one comment, as well as “She doesn’t realise that she can be eliminated by a car”. That was followed by someone asking if anyone knew her home address.

Another comment read: “We will have her skin, that fat Menapian cow”. Menapian refers to the Menapii, a Belgic tribe known to have roamed East and West Flanders. This is probably a reference to the fact that Van den Brandt is Dutch-speaking (the comments were all in French).

“The minister does not want to polarise communities, and she has a thick skin,” her spokesperson told Bruzz, “but this is simply unacceptable – whether levied at average citizens, activists or politicians.”

The Facebook group manager distanced himself from the comments, saying that it’s a rule that comments have to remain polite. “We have seven moderators who read all the posts, but following up on the all the comments to the posts is challenging,” said Lucien Beckers. “We get 300,000 reactions a month.” The comments have since been removed.

Photos ©Benoit Doppagne/BELGA