“It is an attack on our values for peaceful living together and respect for diversity.” You may have heard these words often times, as people react to terrorist attacks, here in Belgium and in France too. I find it a fair reaction if those who say these words are really working to promote those values. But this evening’s report of racism, does it not just show that we may be also perpetrators of what we blame in others? Let’s it check it out.
Racism is not human. Together let’s fight it.
Belgium could do better
Isn’t it shocking to note that Belgium, with Brussels that I would call capital of the world, a city that teems with colours of diversity; yet rates top in areas of racism? Is what we see only appearance?
According to European network Against Racism (ENAR), the group hit most by racism in the offer of employment are, firstly, Maghrebians, followed by those from Sub-Saharan Africa, then Eastern Europeans. Had it not been for this evening’s report on TV, I would be speaking in general. The experience of Jamal, Maghrebian, is a sad confirmation.
Racism un earthed in job offer
Jamal has been looking for a job but no offer. But then he tries to understand what really the matter is. He sends two application letters to an important hotel in Brussel but under different names. However the CV is exactly the same. With his real name, Jamal, of course Arab, he is turned down. The recruiters, in their reply, question his competency and professional capacity. But the application with a name more European, Jérémy, he receives a phone call of offer. Jamal doubts if at all they had even bothered to read the CV under Jamal otherwise they could have discovered they were dealing with the same person. But just the Arab name, apparently, was enough to refuse him a place under the pretext of incompetency and lack of sufficient work experience.
Jamal does not take it personally. He realises he is a victim like many of his camp. And so his action is a kind of advocacy. Now he understands better that others too may have been refused work because they have a “wrong name”. Indeed, it’s through such discoveries that we are forced to face the film of fungus in our society that makes us realise that things are not as ok as we like to think. Indeed, such an incident is not an isolated one.
Racism, not an isolated case
Just yesterday a Belgian MP, Luk Van Biesen, apologised on TV following his racist remarks against another deputy, Meryame Kitir. Her fault is that she is of Moroccan origin. By apologising publicly, which his society expects from him, obviously he saved his face. Nevertheless, his courage to pronounce gratuitously racist remark for a law maker, and in parliament, may give an idea of the spirit that animates him, no matter how much polite he may try to be. Kitir reacted by saying: “…if it could happen in this house it means that racism is still very strong…” And it’s true, signs are there.
What happened few months ago to Emir Kir, doesn’t it border on racism? Kir is a mayor of a municipality of Saint-Josse in Brussels. He received a threatening letter telling him to go back to his land of origin –Turkey.
If people who have lived whole their lives in Belgium, perhaps even born there, up to ascending to important positions in society and yet they remain targets of racism, what more of little ones?
Time to face the racism in me
It’s true, terrorists are heartless destructors of human life. Their barbarism is simply condemnable. However, I doubt if they are responsible also for such shameful gesture of racism. Anyway, whatever the answer, through discoveries like that we come to realise that to live humanly and in peaceful coexistence it takes more than just a show of civility and politeness. In the end, what come up is what lies deep within us. It’s down there we need to do some cleaning.