For decades Tintin has been the world’s most famous Belgian reporter. But now it looks like he may have a competitor. Philippe Servaty is the 42-year old chief economics correspondent of Le Soir, Brussels’ most influential newspaper. This modern Tintin’s adventures took him to Morocco several times over the past years. There dozens of women ended up in his bed and naked in front of his camera lens.
One of them is 42-year old Samira, a teacher in Agadir. Servaty told her that he loved her and asked her to pose nude for a souvenir picture. He had her stand on all fours with a leash around her neck while he took her doggy-style. “These sluts are so naive. If you promise to marry them and take them along with you to Brussels they do whatever you ask,” Servaty wrote on a website where he posted Samira’s picture. Another woman, 23-year old Amina, was photographed while Servaty urinated on her. He had promised her that he was going to help her flee the husband of her arranged marriage and use his media connections to make her a movie star.
Once Servaty had gone home, however, the women never again heard of their Brussels “Manneken Pis.” Neither did they know that he made them stars on the internet. Samira eventually abandoned her dreams of a new life in the heart of Europe as the wife of one of its major journalists and got engaged to a local Agadir man whom she was to marry later this year. On 22 April, however, her fiancé recognised her on a cd-rom that had been made of the modern Tintin’s Moroccan adventures and was for sale in the souks of Agadir. He beat her up and threw her out. Servaty’s photo collection contained over 80 Moroccan women aged between 17 and 45, some tall, some fat, some beautiful, some ugly, some single, some married, and all but one depicted in the most degrading poses.
Samira went to the police to lodge a complaint against Servaty. This was only the beginning of her ordeal. To pose for pornographic pictures is a crime in Morocco and she was immediately arrested. A judge sentenced her to a heavy fine and a prison sentence of one year. Her school fired her, her family cast her out, all her friends abandoned her, while the police began a search for Servaty’s other models. So far, 13 have been convicted to prison sentences, the husband of one of them went insane, two attempted to commit suicide in gaol and some, whom the police cannot find, are thought to have killed themselves or to have been murdered by their disgraced family. Even 30-year old Hafida, the only woman in the pictures who had not taken her clothes off, has become a social outcast. The neighbours call her a whore and the local shops refuse to let her enter.
When the Moroccan police authorities asked their Belgian colleagues to arrest the new Tintin, they were told by Thomson and Thompson in Brussels that this was impossible. I would say even more, according to Belgian law Servaty had done nothing wrong: the women had freely consented to having him take the pictures.
Le Soir, however, forced Servaty to resign in early June when it became known that Servaty had added “anti-Islamic remarks” to some of the pictures, like “there is no better drug than to ejaculate on the veiled face of a woman” or “I met her walking down the street in her djellaba. A few minutes later the f***ing bitch did everything I wanted. Miracles do happen, even in a muslim country!” Abusing the credulity of women to get them to engage in obscenities is one thing, “insulting” Islam is another. Last year Le Soir, the voice of the Brussels francophone establishment and a pillar of the Belgian regime, had loudly applauded the suppression of Belgium’s biggest party, the Flemish-separatist Vlaams Blok, as a criminal organisation because some individual VB members, including a Turkish-born woman who criticised the treatment of women in fundamentalist muslim societies, had made remarks which according to the Belgian judiciary “contributed to a campaign of racial hatred.” Since one of its senior writers has been proved a “racist,” Le Soir even claims to be “one of Servaty’s victims” along with the poor Moroccan women.
The racist remarks might possibly get the new Tintin into a Belgian gaol after all. Since the affair has deeply shocked Morocco the Belgian authorities are under pressure from the Moroccan judicial, political and diplomatic authorities to prosecute Servaty. The latter himself realises that he might currently be better off in gaol than out of it. Moroccan families desiring to avenge their daughters have put a price on the journalist’s head. The reason why they want him dead and why their daughters are committing suicide has nothing to do with Servaty’s mockery of the naivety of muslim women dreaming of a better life in Europe, but everything with his sexual abuse of them – the very thing for which he cannot be prosecuted in Brussels. The Servaty affair is basically a sex scandal, not a racist crime. However, in contemporary Europe making rude remarks about a group of people is a crime while willfully and malignantly wrecking the lives of individuals is not if these individuals have been so stupid as to trust sweet words and empty promises.
A second observation needs to be made. Morality has gone berserk all over Europe, but nowhere to the same degree as in Belgium. There are, of course, sexual perverts everywhere, but Philippe Servaty was not an ordinary sex tourist. He worked for the most influential newspaper in his country. He was a member of the Brussels incrowd, an acquaintance of politicians, academics and businessmen, whom he regularly met and interviewed. Though he posted his photos under a pseudonym – “Belguel” – the new Tintin did not hide his identity as every sensible non-Belgian involved in similar “adventures” would do. He gave the Moroccan girls his real name and address and he told them he worked for Le Soir.
In the summer of 2004, Servaty had been arrested by the Moroccan police. They discovered pornographic pictures in his possession and told him that he risked imprisonment for this. He related his story on the internet: “The police kept me in for 18 hours, but they released me because Morocco has good relations with Belgium where I am a well known person.” One of his internet fans, however, suspected that his nationality was exactly the reason why the Moroccans had searched Servaty for pornography in the first place: “They probably detained him because he is a Belgian.”
Like Servaty, I am a Belgian journalist. Since I started my career in journalism in 1982 I have wondered why Belgium is being plagued by so many scandals – corruption, sex scandals, political murders, abductions, extortions, gangs extending into the police, the judiciary and the political parties. I have come to the conclusion that it has to do with the nature of Belgium, which is an artificial state combining Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia. Belgium is not a genuine nation; it is nothing but a political construction. Political power corrupts. To keep the country together the regime has to buy the adherence of a significant part of the population. Corrupt voters do not care about corrupt politicians and corrupt politicians do not care about organised crime. Brussels is marked by an absence of morality. There is a lesson here for everyone. If Europe ever “belgianises,” i. e. becomes a state without a real nation, it will end up as the same moral cesspit that Belgium is today.
The history of Belgium reads like a long list of scandals. In the 1970s, Belgium’s present King Albert II, then still the Crown Prince, was implicated in a sex affair involving the bribery of Saudi officials. In 1990, police officers revealed the existence of photos and videotapes of sex parties to members of a Belgian parliamentary inquiry committee investigating the malfunctioning of the police and the judiciary. The mafia is said to have used the tapes to blackmail high ranking officials. In 1997, officers declared to a second parliamentary inquiry committee that the tapes had “mysteriously disappeared” from the police files. Ordinary Belgians have come to suspect that there are people belonging to the establishment who can do whatever they please. Philippe Servaty undoubtedly thought he was one of these. It is only because Moroccan hit squads are now hunting for him, that he has discovered there is a price to be paid for immorality.