To fear and security, let's oppose an ethic of solidarity and hospitality!

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“Read Le Vif which quotes the Belga Agency: “Molenbeek: the prosecution is investigating non-profit organizations linked to terrorism or radicalism” (03.03.2017] – will be controlled by the police, under the guise of preventing “violent radicalism » and “terrorism”. The adoption of this Plan e…”

The municipality of Molenbeek and its population have been in the spotlight for almost two years. This “district” of Brussels would have become a “landmark of Islamist jihadism” in Europe. We wish, contrary to the opinions and analyzes which support this reading, to escape from the stigma attached to this place and its inhabitants and which obscures the persistence of very deep societal problems whose determinants are not to be sought, far from it, within the perimeter considered. If the question of radicalism concerns us all, this should not lead us to confuse one of the symptoms with the root of the problems.


If public security was able, in certain cases and for a time, to justify the adoption of certain measures (not necessarily all), these cannot be sustained over time. However, even in this context, government authorities must respect the professional goals of workers and social actors who work with populations experiencing difficulties of all kinds. These workers and social actors address their audiences from what they can become and what they can build with them (taking into account the means available) and not from an approach based on suspicion which would see first and foremost in everyone a threat to society.

From now on, the “Canal-Belfi Plan” established by the Ministers of the Interior and Justice is reaching cruising speed. Thus, all the non-profit organizations in the municipalities of the said plan – then the entire Brussels Region and even beyond [[Read Le Vif which quotes the Belga Agency: “Molenbeek: the public prosecutor's office is investigating non-profit organizations linked to terrorism or radicalism" (03.03.2017] - will be controlled by the police, under the guise of preventing "violent radicalism" and "terrorism". The adoption of this Plan and its implementation constitutes a means of widespread intimidation specter which elevates fear and stigmatization in a mode of public management. We refuse and denounce this drift. Indeed, the implementation of these measures authorizes all amalgamations [[In his response to a parliamentary question last February on this subject , the Minister of the Interior explains, for example, that "74 associations display a link with radicalism, extremism and terrorism." What does this mean: if a person has suspicious associations, the non-profit organization in which she goes is also "criminal"? This kind of shortcuts and amalgamations dot the "plan" and the speech which justifies it.]], particularly when the Federal government attacks "social fraud" in this wake .

Amalgamations, shortcuts and stigmatization, again: we make the associations, as a whole, appear as actors in a world beyond control, who would only be accountable to themselves. This is deeply unfair and wrong. Non-profit organizations subsidized by public authorities respond to the precepts of the legislation on non-profit organizations on the one hand, and to the obligations and procedures subsequently established by the public authorities, namely the Regions, Communities and Municipalities, but also the Federal Government, on the other hand. If the actors of Brussels civil society were horrified by the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, they firmly reject the speeches, held at the highest level of the country, which allow themselves to be shortcuts and untruths regarding their work launching, through the control of associations, a real “great cleansing” of an entire section of our society. This criminalization of civil society must stop!

Furthermore, these measures must not be isolated from others, voted on almost at the same time. Following this momentum, the government, opening Pandora's box, is aligning the following measures:

  • Law of February 9 from Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Mr. Francken, which will allow foreigners to be expelled without trial and under a residence order, only if they are suspected of “disturbing public order” ;
  • Recent law on the repeal of professional secrecy in CPAS in view of presumptions of “terrorism” which social workers will face – before the measure is extended to all associative actors?

Freedom and associative autonomy, professional secrecy and ethics [[Read on this subject the Social Work Manifesto (2015], rights of foreigners, presumption of innocence, fair legal procedures, respect for private life (following the increase in video surveillance in certain neighborhoods), so many principles of the rule of law trampled underfoot! from the sum of these laws, in no case can we make a social project!

We insist: this is not an exercise in self-defense for a sector. On the contrary, we refuse the cynical game in which our organizations are placed which will ultimately lead to pitting groups and sectors of society against each other as is happening in several European countries. While, at the same time, the argument of “living together” and “social cohesion” is constantly brandished… However, associations have been, for decades, one of the guarantors of democratic vitality, a counter-power necessary which often allows, beyond the daily work of aid or social support for more fragile people, to be (with others) the voice of collective aspirations for justice, equal rights and (re-)construction of collective solidarity and social ties. So many issues that are particularly weakened in these times of successive crises which produce anxiety, hatred and rejection of all kinds.

To this deleterious climate, in which government officials participate, we want to oppose an associative ethic which gives the values of hospitality, equality, solidarity, freedom and the notions of respect and dialogue their rightful place in a democratic society. Let us reaffirm freedom of association, a vector of emancipation, in opposition to security and commercial logic [[Even if from now on, let us not be naive, our sectors are also subject to management and evaluation methods originating from private enterprise. ]] and selfish interests.

Finally, we invite citizens who, worried in this particularly anxiety-provoking climate, do not know enough about the associations in their town or neighborhood, to go through the doors to inquire about their projects, but also about their difficulties as well as their desire. of change to take the gamble on solidarity together, turning our backs on fears and the withdrawals that threaten.

**Signatory associations:

Reading and Writing Brussels, L'Oranger AMO, Maison du Peuple d'Europe, MRAX, Maison du Livre de St-Gilles, Kiosk (CIDJ), Valérie Servais – Municipal coordination of social cohesion of Etterbeek, Myriem Amrani & Alain Willaert ( President and Vice-President of the 'social cohesion' section of the French-speaking Brussels Advisory Council for Personal Aid and Health – Cocof), Dynamo AMO, Dynamo International, Secular Youth Aid Federation, Street Traces (French-speaking federation of street social workers), PlanJ AMO (Ouest BW), MagMA, Justice & Peace Commission, BePAX, Writing Collectives, TCC accueil AMO, Zinneke asbl, La Porte Verte-Snijboontje, Maison de Quartier St-Antoine (Forest), Le SAS Evere (SSM), Youth Integration Training, From Here and Elsewhere (SSM), Brussels Youth Rights Service, Le Toucan AMO, Le Foyer, Brussels Socio-Political Coordination Council, La Cité des Écrits , Télé-Services social space, SETIS, Véronique Marissal (coordinator of the Coordination of homework schools in Brussels), La Rue.



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