There is also the amazing case of journalist Paul Belien, who edits the Brussels Journal, a pro-American, Euroskeptic, anti-Islamist blog. In February, the blog was one of the few news sources to republish the notorious Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammad, thereby attracting some two million unique visits. It also attracted extraordinary scrutiny from the Flemish newsweekly Knack. Noting that Mr. Belien's blog had been cited by Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, Knack described the link as "no coincidence," but rather a "deliberate provocation by the neocons," the ultimate aim of which was to make Americans and Europeans believe "that all Muslims are violent and dangerous, after which the clash in Palestine, Iran and Syria can really kick off."
But that was as nothing compared to the reaction Mr. Belien provoked by an article following the Van Holsbeeck murder, in which he described the killers as "predators" and called for Belgium to decriminalize the possession of self-defense weapons (pepper-spray is what he says he had mainly in mind).
Two weeks after the article appeared, Mr. Belien received a letter from the Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, a government-mandated body whose mission is to "assist victims of discrimination" and "sensitize the general public on anti-discrimination." (Belgium has one of the strongest anti-discrimination regimes anywhere.) Mr. Belien's article, according to the CEOOR, constituted an "incitement to violence"; he was ordered to remove it from his blog or face state prosecution. He complied. In the meantime, he says he received emails with pictures of burned corpses and messages reading, "This is what is going to happen to you."
Mr. Belien has since been questioned by the police for homeschooling his five children, four of whom have moved on to university or beyond. Part of Mr. Belien's problem, surely, is that his wife is a member in parliament for the Vlaams Belang. But whatever her politics, Mr. Belien is not a member of the party, and nothing on the Brussels Journal suggests that it is a party vehicle. His chief crime, rather, seems to be that he has laid bare, to an English-speaking audience, the lesser-known charms of the Belgian state.