De Clerck Causes Outrage Over ‘Collaborator’ Proposal

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De Clerck said on state-run television channel RTBF that perhaps most acts of collaboration between Belgians and Nazis could be forgotten. “At a given point, one should act in an adult way and be ready to discuss the issue and even to forget it, because all this is past. This is necessary to restore society.”

Later the justice minister tried to make amends by saying he “regretted” the controversy caused, and said it was due to a “misinterpretation” of the interview.

“It is not about forgeting or minimizing the facts. We should, however, be able to give a proper interpretation of this past and raise the issue in a reasoned way,” said De Clerck.

The justice minister has found some support from other Flemish political parties, including the Socialists, who have agreed to introduce a draft law in favour of a pardon for those who collaborated.

“This is not the first time,” explained Maurice Sosnowski, President of the CCOJB, the representative body of Belgian Jews. “Back in 1998, extremist Flemish parties introduced a similar amendment to pardon collaborators. Jewish organisations and the former Resistance movements had the amendment repelled within a year.”

“This time, even the Socialists joined the extremists. This is serious. We asked to meet Mr De Clerck over the issue but we haven’t had an answer yet.”

In a letter to acting Prime Minister, Yves Leterme, Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations wrote: “No wonder antisemitism and other hate crimes grow unchecked in Brussels,  ‘The Capital of Europe’, and across Belgium, when your chief lawman allegedly advocates on national television to forget Nazi crimes as they lie in the past.”

Samuels further demanded that De Clerck  be sacked, “he must be promptly removed from his ministry and his party, and shunned in the political arena”.