Interview Knack with Filip Dewinter: “Being a Moroccan, you have an advantage”

Six years ago they clashed on “De Zevende Dag” [“The Seventh Day”, a political debate program on Belgian TV]. Last week again they were sitting face to face. And this time Filip Dewinter did not walk out, but stayed put for hours for a tough marathon interview with our reporter [Joël De Ceulaer]. This week at eight full pages in Knack.

Your infamous 70-step plan of 1992 [proposals for the immigration problem] was fully adapted to the collective return of immigrants [to their home countries]. What has changed since then in your thinking?

Dewinter: In my thinking nothing has changed, society has changed. Since then we are almost two decades further along. And that means that a large group of people are growing up as second or third generation [of immigrants]. For a large number of them it is an illusion to think that they will ever return. The situation has evolved, but unfortunately not in the positive sense, anyway. Bu our principles have remained the same.

Then apply those to the second and third generation, those who are born here.

Dewinter: Well, I always have been of the opinion that it is a matter of adjusting or returning to…

Hold on a minute. Someone who is born here, where should he return to? Back to the delivery room?

Dewinter: (laughs) No-no-no, don’t make a caricature of it.

But what then?

Dewinter: I think we have to explain much more clearly what we require of those people, and what we do not require of them. And that clarity is not present now, rather the opposite. The principle is simple: a halt to immigration, the doors closed. We cannot sweep the floor while the tap is running. While the family reunifications continue to happen, the number of illegal immigrants increases, the asylum procedures are not adjusted, the number of naturalizations increases and dual nationality is not abolished — well, then all efforts are useless. Then it makes no sense to let people who are here adjust themselves. Thus the mass immigration must stop. And then the real work can begin.

Okay. How must that to be done, be concrete?

Dewinter: Simple. To begin with we abolish dual nationality. We let those people know that there can be only one loyalty: to our community, our values and standards. The second point, this has for once and for all be stated on the record, in a declaration of loyalty, similar to what exists in the United States of America.

Excuse me? Who is born here is not at all obliged to sign anything? As Belgians they have as many rights as you and I.

Dewinter: But also obligations. And that is what they prefer not to talk about.

Who does not prefer to talk about it?

Dewinter: A large number of the Muslims residing here say so. And ever louder.

But the overwhelming majority of Muslims residing here are living in a simple and neat way, according to the country’s laws.

Dewinter: A vast majority do so, yes. But that majority is totally irrelevant, because they are not in charge. It is the extremists who are pulling the cords of the Islamic societal groups. Moreover, many immigrants are not at all encouraged to integrate, because they live in neighborhoods with only Moroccan shops and mosques and on top of that Quran schools, in some sort of imported souk. What would they have to integrate?

Do you know what I think? If you were born as a Moroccan Belgian, you would be attracted to emancipation policy yourself, you would then also demand equal rights.

Dewinter: But I’m not born Moroccan, I am born a Fleming in Bruges. Let me give another example. If I were moving to Morocco, I’d understand that I need to adjust. And I don’t want that. Therefore I am not moving to Morocco.

But that is not the point. The matter is that the emancipation process of the immigrant community today is as necessary as it has been to the Flemings, the workers and the women, in the twentieth century. They also had to enforce equal rights.

Dewinter: There is a big difference. We are on our home field. On our own ground.

Whoever is born here as a Moroccan Belgian, is also playing on his home field.

Dewinter: That stranger is not playing on his home field. That stranger is a guest here and should behave as a guest. There maybe are some guests who have been here a while longer, but they still are here as guests. And they must realize well…

Who was born here is not here as guest. This is as much their country as it is yours.

Dewinter: I still am of the opinion that a cat that is born in a fish shop has not therefore become a fish — to explain it with an expressive metaphor. It may take a few generations before one is fully assimilated. But that is ultimately the objective: Becoming a Fleming amongst the Flemings. But then we also must do our part of the effort to make this clear to them. And we are not doing that.

Should we not above all make an effort to eliminate discrimination? Just imagine that you were born in Antwerp of Moroccan-Belgian parents…

Dewinter: (sigh) Here we go again.

Then you are already are disadvantaged at birth.

Dewinter: I think that in this society I would have an advantage though, if I were born a Moroccan in Antwerp. There will be immediately a few street corner workers [outreach work] standing ready to guide me personally. I can count on positive discrimination, there is a mayor who pampers me. (loosely) I’m okay for the rest of my life.

That is nonsense, and you know that.

Dewinter: Those people are not the victim of our so-called racist society. Period.