Antisemitic incidents in Belgium more than double in a year

The number of antisemitic incidents recorded in Belgium, including trivialisation and outright denial of the Holocaust, has more than doubled in the last year.

In 2019, 14 offences were registered. In 2020 there were 27, according to figures that Flemish liberal Senator Tom Ongena (Open VLD) requested from Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (also Open VLD).

In addition to the registered increase in offences motivated to antisemitism, there was also an increase in the number of complaints. After a brief decrease compared to 2018, the number of complaints filed with UNIA (an independent public institution fighting discrimination and promoting equality in Belgium) increased again in 2020. “The high number of complaints about antisemitism and the actual crimes recorded forces us to review our approach,” said Ongena.

Mr. Ongena is satisfied with the additional measures proposed by the government, such as a better recording system for hate crimes – “to measure is to know”, according to Ongena – or the recent reactivation of the antisemitism vigilance cell. This cell includes the police, the public prosecutor’s office as well as representatives of the Jewish community and the competent cabinets (justice and interior).

The cell has already organised two meetings this year and has planned one on education. “Education is and will remain an essential ally in the fight against antisemitism and anti-discrimination in general. Raising awareness on this issue is essential”, Ongena concluded.

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