In a move hailed by UKIP, a Belgian parliamentary committee has called for the banning of the burka in public places.
The BBC's take on this provides an insight into their thinking on this sort of subject and another example of bias by labelling: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8597142.stm
Here's the passage that particularly caught my eye:
Denis Ducarme, from the Belgian centre-right ReformistWhat puzzles me is that by calling the Reformist Movement "centre-right" readers might take it to be the Belgian equivalent of either UKIP or the Conservative Party. It's no such thing. It's a liberal party and sits with Chris Huhne's party in the European parliament, being - like the Lib Dems - a member of Liberal International.
Movement that proposed the bill, said he was "proud that Belgium would be the
first country in Europe which dares to legislate on this sensitive matter".
So this policy was proposed by the Belgian (Walloon) equivalent of the Liberal Democrats yet the BBC seems reluctant to mention that. Why?
Indeed all five parties in the current coalition government back the move. They are:
- The Flemish Christian Democrats (CD & V)
- The Walloon Christian Democrats (CdH)
- The Flemish Liberals (VLD)
- The Walloon Liberals (MR)
- The Walloon Socialists (PS)
And who are the Walloon Socialists allied to in the European parliament? Denis MacShane and the Labour Party of course.
Why did the BBC article not make it plain that this proposed measure has widespread support across the Belgian political spectrum? Why only mention the 'centre-right' proponents of the ban?
UPDATE Looking through the online newspapers is intriguing here (in a nerdy sort of way).
Here's the Telegraph, not downplaying the cross-party nature of the support and correctly identifying the 'liberal' identity of the Reformist Movement:
The unanimous decision by senior home affairs legislators, with the support of Belgium's main political parties, has paved the way for a full Belgian parliament vote on a ban to be held in three weeks.
Denis Ducarme, a Belgian MP for the liberal Reformist Movement party that
drafted the ban, predicted that legislation would receive full parliamentary
backing on April 22.
The Times also reports that "Belgium's main parties are united behind the move and the influential home affairs committee voted for it unanimously today," though it joins the BBC in labeling the Reformist movement as 'centre-right'. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article7083103.ece
Curiously though The Daily Mail places Mr Ducarme correctly as a 'liberal' but positions him somewhere quite different on the political spectrum:
"Left-wing MP Denis Ducarme left no doubt the rules were targeting-Muslim extremists. The French- speaking liberals who have proposed the law argue that an inability to identify people presents a security risk and that the veil is a ‘walking prison’ for women." http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1262545/Belgium-set-European-country-ban-burka.html#ixzz0jmqY78ZNWikipedia suggests that the party of Mr Ducarme has been drifting leftwards in recent years, under the influence of social liberal Dirk Verhofstadt.