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Jonathan Charles questions Dewinter and his critics
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banner Wednesday, 17 May, 2000, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Far right party woos Belgians
The Vlaams Blok offers cash to all parents of white, Flemish babies

Belgium's 'Haider of the north'

This story is part of 'Our Nationality', shown on BBC2 at 18:50 on Saturday 13th May

Europe's far right political parties believe they're entering a golden age of opportunity-nationalist feeling is growing in many European countries.

It's not just Austria which now has a strong far right party, Belgium too has a political grouping which is now taking more than ten per cent of the national vote in elections.

The Vlaams Blok flag
The Vlaams Blok would expel all immigrants
While Belgium opposes the rise of Austria's Jorg Haider and its far-right party they have their own far-right party gaining support in Antwerp, led by Filip Dewinter. The Vlaams Blok is campaigning for the break-up of Belgium and independence for Flemish speaking Flanders. It wants all immigrants expelled-even those whose families have lived in Belgium for as long as four generations.

His charm appears to make the politics of hate almost reasonable

Jonathan Charles
The Blok's leader, Filip Dewinter, is fast gaining a reputation as the Haider of the north'. At 37 he's already a member of Parliament and now he's hoping to become Mayor of Antwerp in this autumn's elections. One in three voters is expected to support him-making the Vlaams Blok the largest single party in the city council.

And with slick publicity campaigns denegrating immigrants and preying on fears of multiculturalism to a largely white population, their popularity is rising further.
Filip Dewinter speaks at a Vlaams Blok rally
Phillip Dewinter, an admirer of both Le Pen and Haider

Immigrants living in Antwerp are now very worried about what will happen.They're incensed by some of Dewinter's policies. The Vlaams Blok is offering parents of each new born child thirty thousand Belgian Francs (the equivalent of five hundred pounds) as long as the baby is white and Flemish.

jonathan charles
Jonathan Charles examines the rise of the far-right in Belgium
Immigrants like Patries Wichers, whose family came from Indonesia,are incensed. She has complained to the government's anti-racism centre. She wants Dewinter prosecuted for racism. Yet the Belgian government, are reluctant to act against the Vlaams Blok in case they are seen to restrict free speech.

BBC correspondent, Jonathan Charles, says that ten years ago when he first moved to Belgium the Vlaams Blok were a political joke now they're a powerful force. One man, Filip Dewinter, is responsible.

Also on the programme life under siege with a Serb Orthodox priest in Kosovo, where at least seventy churches and monasteries have been destroyed since the war

Producer: Nick Hudson

Reporter: Jonathan Charles

Series Producer: Lucy Hetherington

Editor: Fiona Murch

Click here for transcripts

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