January 15, 2016

THE STEW POT DOESN'T WORK:

Has Belgium created 'a system of apartheid'? (Tim Whewell, 1/15/16, BBC Magazine)

At a police training academy on the outskirts of Brussels, new recruits are wrestling one another to the ground - practising techniques of unarmed restraint. There are about 40 of them - fresh-faced young people in their 20s, men and women - but what's immediately noticeable is that with one exception, they're all white.

Watching them is Paul Jacobs. For 20 years he dealt with discrimination complaints in the Belgian police - and he's just finished a session teaching this class "inter-cultural communication".

They discussed why so many Belgian youngsters go to fight in Syria - a higher proportion, relative to the population, than from any other country in Europe. And a heated argument broke out when Suhaila, the only non-white recruit - from a Moroccan background, like many Belgian Muslims - said she could understand why young Muslims might become jihadis.

Paul Jacobs argues that Belgium's internal divisions make it harder to accept diversity

"The whole class was reacting - over-reacting," Jacobs says. "It was the first time they had talked with someone of a Moroccan background."

For a visitor to Brussels, where more than a quarter of the population is Muslim, that's a surprising thought. But Paul Jacobs is not surprised.

"I am a little bit scared to use this term," he says. "But I think we live in a system of apartheid. You really have ghettos. And what is more important, and more dangerous, is not that people aren't living together - it's the mental ghetto."

Posted by at January 15, 2016 8:42 AM

  

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