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Belgium 'Illegality Hotline' Launched By Flemish Interest Party

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Vlaams Belang Flemish Parliament member, Filip Dewinter makes a speech at the New Year's reception of the Merksem branch of Flemish far-right party Vlaams Belang, on February 4, 2012.  (GEERTJE DE WAEGENEER/AFP/Getty Images)
Vlaams Belang Flemish Parliament member, Filip Dewinter makes a speech at the New Year's reception of the Merksem branch of Flemish far-right party Vlaams Belang, on February 4, 2012. (GEERTJE DE WAEGENEER/AFP/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, a far-right Belgian Flemish party launched a hotline that allows citizens to report "problems and nuisances" caused by undocumented immigrants. The Flemish Interest Party reportedly established the hotline in order to collect testimonies of "illegality" and transfer the information to police and security services.

On its website, the party claims the presence of tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in Belgium's largest cities causes heedless nuisance for the population. The party accuses undocumented immigrants of participating in the drug trade, hold-ups and burglaries, and claims that "illegality" is not only tolerated, but encouraged in the country.

Filip Dewinter, a prominent member of the Flemish Interest Party, told Flemish radio that the website serves as a political instrument to underline the party's political stance that undocumented immigrants need to be actively tracked, and that they must be sent back to their countries of origin.

Jozef De Witte of Belgium's Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism called the website "illegal," the Flemish Radio and Television Network Organization (VRT) reports. "It reminds me of the Nazi regime in the thirties, or the Stasi in the former DDR," De Witte said. "Mr. Dewinter knows it's illegal, but he just wants to provoke and to shock people," he told VRT.

The Flemish Interest Party admits it was inspired by an earlier initiative by Dutch radical politician Geert Wilders to report nuisances caused by Eastern Europeans in the Netherlands. Wilders drew strong criticism from the European Commission for his proposal.

Defending the hotline on Flemish radio, Dewinter said the website wants to focus on situations of illegality, not on undocumented immigrants. Yet in the same interview he said, "It is about undocumented immigrants. It is about illegal situations created by undocumented immigrants."

Commenting on behalf of the European Union, spokesman Olivier Bailly told Europe Online "these websites are not in line with the European values that we defend.

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Filed by Eline Gordts