Brussels Welcomes Hijabs in Parliament

Yesterday, on April 20th 2006, the Belgians carried a young scout to his grave after he was murdered by North African youths for not obeying them immediately when they told him to hand over his MP3 player. Desperately trying to prove that their boy was not a “racist” who must have “provoked” the murderers, the boy’s family gave pride of place to Muslim friends and symbols at the funeral service. Their immigrant neighbours were given permission to distribute homebaked bread in the church.

In the afternoon of the same day the Belgian parliament changed a longstanding rule concerning the wearing of headgear (hijabs) by visitors and members in the House. Since the establishment of the Belgian Parliament it has been the rule that members of the public who follow parliamentary proceedings from the visitors’ seats remove their hats and caps as a sign of respect for the House and the democratic principles it embodies. The rule has never been questioned, not in the early 20th century when working people habitually wore caps and politely removed them in church and when visiting Parliament; not in the 1950s and ’60s when women generally wore hats as a sign of deference in church, but removed them as a sign of deference when attending proceedings in Parliament; not throughout all the decades when priests and nuns were familiar figures in Belgium’s streets and the nuns wore veils and habits.

Yesterday, however, a majority in Parliament voted to change the rule so as to exempt Muslim women from the obligation to remove their headgear as a token of respect when attending sessions in Parliament. Thus a longstanding tradition was broken, and a new form of discrimination introduced. For the rule still requires that visitors dress appropriately. Seeing as the current Speaker, Herman De Croo, is approaching seventy this means in practice that Muslim visitors will not be requested to remove their religious headscarves, but Western teenagers wearing whatever headgear is fashionable in their peergroup most likely will. A few years ago the same De Croo had a Green MP forcibly removed from his seat for wearing a baseball cap.

The traditional rule was strictly unpartisan and secular. The current majority in the Belgian parliament is a predominantly anti-religious one that came to power in 1999 and has worked diligently from the outset to erase every remaining trace of Belgium’s Catholic heritage in its laws and its public places. As the legalisation of soft drugs, euthanasia, homosexual marriage and adoption of children by homosexual couples were forced through parliament in quick succession, crosses were removed from courtrooms and graveyard buildings, while priests were replaced by lay “spiritual guides” in hospitals and prisons. This majority clearly regards its current term in power as a celebration of the victory of “enlightenment” and atheism over the “backward” and “oppressive” Catholic tradition that helped shape Belgian society. Whence, then, their readiness to give up a secular tradition and allow the symbol of Muslim dominance in the West to entrench itself on the public benches of its core democratic institution?

Ironically, yesterday, also, the Senate voted to allow the adoption of children by homosexual couples, thus completing the parliamentary procedure to incorporate homosexual marriage into Belgian civil law on a par with traditional marriage. Consequently April 20th 2006 became a significant date in the three-way culture war: whilst the secularists complete their conquest over religious tradition through institutional change, a conquest which has taken them half a century to achieve, they are already surrendering to the Muslims in the latter’s conquest of the West through social dominance and with the collaboration of politically correct elites. Headscarves in Parliament, and Turkish loaves instead of the Eucharist at the funeral of a boy who was murdered by Muslims: these are powerful signs. As the “enlightened” triumph over the elimination of the last vestiges of Christianity, the religious vacuum in Belgian society has already been filled.


"Western teenagers wearing whatever headgear is fashionable in their peergroup most likely will."

This is known as the "two wrongs make a right" principle.

I expect the stupid hat rule came in because anarchists were inclined to hide guns under them. A modest scanner at the entrance would solve the problem.

And in our country William Hague wore a baseball cap, and look what happened to him.

Bob Doney

Yes she did

Why? Because she omitted relevant information (the cause of the vote) and she blew the whole thing completely out of proportion. Colen's column can be summarized in her own words as: "A predominantly anti-religious parliament allowed the symbol of Muslim dominance in the West to entrench itself on the public benches of its core democratic institution". When I first read it, I thought by myself: "Damn this parliament, when are they ever going to learn?".

When I think about it now, I agree with the alteration of the rule.
First of all, when people remove their hats and caps as a sign of respect, for instance when they enter a church, this doesn't imply the headgear of nuns. The same goes for the hijab. Keeping it on is no sign of disrespect. By forcing nuns and Muslim women to remove their headgear, the rule overshoots itself.

Secondly, respect should be deserved and not imposed by state coercion. If the visitors respect "the House and the democratic principles it embodies" they will remove their hats and caps out of their own free will and not because a bully at the entrance orders them to do so. The fact that there is a rule which forces people to remove their hats suggests that the Belgian state never expected its citizens to have any respect for it.

Conclusion: a column about the vote could have had a title like "Belgian parliament abolishes hypocritical rule". Unfortunately, Alexandra has another agenda. She blows the whole thing out of proportion in order to sing her old deceiving song: everything goes wrong and only secularism is to blame.

You were wrong, Johan. The

You were wrong, Johan. The vote in the Chamber did NOT originate from a request by Baroness de Bethune and Pax Christi, but the proposal to change the rule was made by Zoë Génot, an MP of the Francophone Greens of the Ecolo Party. Apart from Ecolo it was backed by Socialists and Liberals. Hence, a secularist appeasement of the Muslims by parties who at the same time are eradicating all remaining remnants of our Christian culture.

OK, so I was wrong about the

OK, so I was wrong about the cause of the vote. But the Pax Christi incident illustrates that also Christian organizations and Christian politicians support the intended appeasement. Keeping this fact out of the picture is deceiving because it supports a false conclusion you repeat ad infinitum: that ONLY secularism is to blame for the appeasement of the Muslims.
Is pope Benedict not a Christian? Are the Catholic bishops not Christians? Is cardinal Danneels not a Christian?
And didn't Jezus order the Christians to "turn the other cheek"?

Although I don't agree with the intentions of Zoë Génot, I agree with the result of her original proposal: the removal of 3 words ("with uncovered head") from the rule. This diminishes state coercion over visitors and simplifies the rule. Respect for the parliament can only be achieved if visitors can freely choose to give it. If it is applied by force, than it is not real and it has no value whatsoever.

Finally, in a similar Senate rule the word "bareheaded" was removed in 1995. Why didn't Alexandra complain about that removal either? Was it because in 1995 the Christian-Democrats were still in power?

What Alexandra 'forgot' to tell

Alexandra Coolen asks why "a predominantly anti-religious parliament" allowed "the symbol of Muslim dominance in the West to entrench itself on the public benches of its core democratic institution".

The answer is plain and simple: because a Christian senator and a Christian organization complained about it and asked the parliament to change the rule.

In December last year Pax Christi's staff visited the parliament. Two Muslim women, both staff members, were denied access to the visitors' gallery because of their headgear. Sabine de Bethune, a senator of the Christian Democrat party, called this "outrageous" and filed a complaint because "no Catholic nun, no patient with a cap, no Jew with a yarmulka and no pope is welcome in the visitors' gallery". Pax Christi did the same.

Coolen's article shows how she tries to deceive her readers by blaming secularism for everything that goes wrong. She doesn't mention the real cause of the vote because she doesn't want to criticize "the last vestiges of Christianity".

While secular women like Wafa Sultan and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are risking their lives to fight Islam, Catholic bishops march in pro-immigration demonstrations, pope Benedict condemns the Danish cartoons, Pax Christi fights for Muslim rights and Alexandra Coolen preaches her defeatism and blames everything on secularism.

Did Alexandra deceive you?

Perhaps Baroness de Bethune, a feminist ideologue, and Pax Christi, a leftist organisation that I would hardly call Catholic, proposed the measure in the Senate, but Thursday's vote in the Chamber was as follows: The governing secularist parties (Socialists and Liberals) voted in favour of changing the rule and allowing the hijab (and other headgear) in parliament. The Vlaams Belang voted against, and the Christian-Democrats abstained from voting.

a far stretch (apples & oranges 3)

This doesn't sound right to me:

the "religious vacuum in Belgian society" is being filled by islam.

If this were really happening, then the former Catholics would be converting to Islam, but they are not. And surely any religious vacuum, if such exists, will exist within an individual not a country or nation?

It may well be true that Belgians (and Britons and Spaniards and Dutch and ...) are losing any sense of group identity as they lose interest in religion. But, 1) this is happening spontaneously and won't be reversed by saying, "keep your religion", and 2) there seems to be no reason that Belgians etc. can't maintain a group identity without recourse to religion.

And then after all of that, what difference does it make if gay people exist and form loving relationships and acclaim them by getting married?

One can say that marriage is more than acclaiming a loving relationship, but how is that so? People make families on the basis of the loving relationship they have acclaimed and that is wonderful and beautiful. But making a family is not a necessary part of marriage, is it?

apples and oranges #2


Ms Colen is NOT "mixing up apples and oranges".  Her central theses are (1) that the secular left has triumphed in the culture wars (within western civilisation) over the country's "catholic heritage", and (2) that the "religious vacuum in Belgian society" is being filled by islam.  Both examples, homosexual marriage and the 'exception' for hijabs-in-parliament, provide  empirical evidence that supports Ms Colens's theses. Perhaps, it is you who is "mixing up", or failing to make a proper intellectual distinction, between abstract theses and empirical observations (or concrete examples)?  

While the philosophical underpinnings for a serious legal concept of "marriage" could provide a wide scope for debate, your 'reductionist' view of "marriage" as an "acclamation of a loving relationship" is not serious and straight out of 'Hollywood'.   



your 'reductionist' view of "marriage" as an "acclamation of a loving relationship" is not serious and straight out of 'Hollywood'.

It sounded serious enough to me. That's the main reason I got married. It was only years later I found out about the legal and fiscal advantages. I reckon you may have got a bit muddled up with your intellectual, abstract, empirical, reductionist bullshit.

Bob Doney

apples and oranges

I don't understand why you mix things up together that don't have any relationship. You criticise homosexual marriage in the same breath as you criticise special privileges for Muslims in the Parliament.

Why? Homosexual marriage simply lets two men or two women acclaim their loving relationship.  Why would you want to deny them that? It seems only fair to me. Special privileges for the religious in Parliament are just the opposite. That is unfair. They are receiving a dispensation not available to anyone else.

church and state

Well, I think it would be outrageous if the Belgian Parliament required people to violate their religious beliefs to witness the proceedings.  Having said that, if the exemption applies only to Muslim women rather than, say, to Orthodox Jews (male and female) as well it would be disturbing.  But if it is a general exemption for religious head coverings I don't see what the problem is.

People confuse the two different conceptions of religion and the state, and often confuse militant secularism with religious neutrality. In the first conception we scrub the public square clean of all religious expression, and in the other we treat expression of religious beliefs and ideas like any other beliefs and ideas, i.e. we let them be expressed freely. I think the second model is much better.

Muslims, Jews and nuns

@Evan: The new rule also applies to Orthodox Jews and Catholic nuns, who henceforward will also be allowed to attend the parliamentary proceedings without uncovering their head. Isn't that great! For 175 the state did not see why Orthodox Jews and Catholic nuns should be allowed to visit Parliament. How fortunate they are today that at last they will be allowed in because the "enlightened" state felt it could not deprive Muslims of the rights it had always denied Christians and Jews.

Alexandra Colen

You are talking about Christianity like it originated in your house or your family town!! My dear lady, msulims are different, no one race!  And Christianity came from my village, as Islam came from the nearby towns, and I dont say Christianity belongs to my family, neither I say Islam belongs to my grandfather!!! Europe has no race!!! History tells us its people are historic immigrants!!!

This historical survey tells

This historical survey tells us all too clearly what the future of Europe will be - thanks to the ignorant and venal Eurocrats - if there are no steps taken to reverse what is going on:

The Global Jihad.

Migrants occupy Begian churches

Migrants have also occupied Belgian churches in protest at government plans to reform asylum procedures.

There is no obligation for Muslims to respect Christian places of worship - obviously.

Migrants occupy Belgian churches

Meanwhile, the Indian Goverment is anxious to "respect the sanctity" of a mosque from which jihadists have fired on Indian security forces.

Terrorists open fire from inside mosque .

Muslims are a worldwide nuisance and threat. The man in the street knows it and is, rightly, becoming angry. The contemptible Euro-establishment knows it, too, but cares not, and tries to hide the fact.