Court hearing to follow Facebook comments on death of teen

Summary

The so-called Flemish Defence League will be required to appear in court in the autumn based on a complaint of inciting racial hatred after a Facebook post mocking a recently deceased teenager of Moroccan descent

‘Sick racism’

An organisation called the Flemish Defence League is facing legal action later this year for inciting racial hatred, following a complaint from the federal equal opportunities agency Unia, the Antwerp prosecutor’s office has confirmed.

The organisation has come under fire this week over hate messages posted on the group’s Facebook page in reaction to the death of a teenager from Genk with Moroccan roots. The group has since deleted the page.

Politicians and other public figures have reacted strongly in recent days to the messages, posted in response to an article about the death of 15-year-old Ramzi Mohammed Kaddouri. He died in a quad accident while on holiday in Morocco.

Among the least offensive examples of posts were arguments that Kaddouri should not be referred to as “Flemish” as he was in the article and that he probably bought the quad “with the proceeds of drugs trade or theft”. Other posts were much more vicious.

“Sick racism,” commented Flanders’ youth minister Sven Gatz. His colleague Liesbeth Homans, minister of equal opportunities, called the display “repellent and degrading”. 

“Terrible racist remarks,” according to Flemish MP Tine Soens on Twitter. “What’s wrong with this world?”

“This was only a child who had never done anything to anyone. There is something seriously wrong in our society,” said CD&V member Youssef Kobo (pictured), who said he had received death threats following his condemnation of the posts.

“The at times hateful remarks on social media show that there is still a great deal to be done before we arrive at a shared citizenship and an inclusive society,” Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois said. “Ramzi was a young Fleming who was taken from the world too soon. People who employ this sort of hurtful language need to take a look in the mirror.”

A formal complaint has been filed and will result in a court case after the summer recess, the Antwerp prosecutor’s office said. The office did not specify who had filed the complaint or what charges might result.

Photo courtesy Youssef Kobo/Twitter