Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rally in Support of United Belgium

Still on Belgium. Saw this piece about a pro-Belgian rally in Wallonia. 35,000 people, mostly Francophone in Francophied Brussels, join a rally to support the Belgian state.


Now 35,000 is a lot of people. But two things. French-speakers identify with the Belgian state - and only a small minority of the people were Flemish. So it's a bit like those mass rallies in Madrid a few years ago against ETA and Basque Independence - they would say that wouldn't they. It's a bit like a rally in London against Northern Ireland joining the Republic. It doesn't really say anything. Belgium was built in the image of a French state and it's natural then that French-speakers are very happy with Belgium.

The state has changed a lot since WWI when Flemish conscripts were sent to fight by French-speaking officers not understanding a word which was said to them (bit like Wales really) but every concession the Flemish movement and Dutch language has won is that, a concession, from a Francophone state. Seeing french-speakers marching for Belgium is like seeing Russians marching to keep the USSR or Turks marching to keep a united Turkey against an independent Kurdistan.

They want to keep a state which gives their language prestige over a larger territory - of course they want to support that. And of course, this is all done in the name of warm words like 'unity' and 'diversity'. No doubt, the Flemish would be flying Belgian flags if Belgian had been created in the image of a Dutch-speaking state and people able to speak Dutch in Wallonia and Dutch taking over towns in French-speaking Wallonia too.

There's also the ubiquitous 'why don't politicians discuss schools/hospitals/work' which the rally organiser complains about. Conceit is a funny thing. No doubt if parts of Wallonia became Dutch-speaking, or dare I say Brussels - which was a majority Dutch-speaking city until the Second World War, then the Francophones would be up in arms.

The other interesting development is Belgian flag-waving. Funny how the Belgian nationalists are now flying flags, no doubt after years of patronising Flemish patriots as 'flag-waving nationalists'. Funny how Brit Nats now want us to fly their flag too in the name of 'unity' and 'diversity' after years of implying that Welsh nationalists were extremist flag wavers.

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