Flemish Politician Faces Heavy Penalties for Racist Comments in Private Facebook Group

Harsh criticism of Flemish “denialist agitator” who hides hate with humor and memes

In 2018, a television report exposed the racist and denialist comments exchanged in a private Facebook group called Schild & Vrienden. Flemish politician Dries Van Langenhove was among the members of the group, which promoted racist ideologies. The court found that he attracted others to his racist speech and created a hostile atmosphere in society. Along with six other members of the group, Van Langenhove was convicted of inciting hatred and discrimination.

The conviction came with severe penalties. Van Langenhove was sentenced to a one-year prison term and a fine of 16,000 euros for violating laws on racism and denialism. Additionally, he received a suspended sentence for violating the Weapons Law and his political rights were revoked for 10 years. This punishment is considered one of the most severe, as punishments for apologizing for Nazism are usually lenient.

Vlaams Belang, the far-right party that Van Langenhove is associated with, defended its members, claiming that justice in Belgium is corrupt. However, the court’s decision was based on laws prohibiting denial of the Nazi genocide and acts inspired by racism and xenophobia. The judges concluded that the group had engaged in hate speech and discriminatory behavior, targeting individuals based on their race and religion. This behavior led to harassment and abuse of individuals like Jihad Van Puymbroeck and writer Dalilla Hermans.

The court’s ruling highlights the seriousness of hate speech and discrimination, even when communicated through private channels or disguised as jokes. It challenges the notion that offensive speech is protected under freedom of expression. The case serves as a reminder that hate, abuse, harassment, and discrimination have no place in society

Leave a Reply