Belgium has passed a counter terrorism law that is drawing condemnation from civil rights groups who say it unfairly targets immigrants and minorities for deportation without any legal recourse, the New York Times has reported.
The law gives the government the power to deport legal residents from Belgium on the suspicion of terrorist activities without any crime actually being committed. The wide net cast by the law has angered immigrant and civil rights groups, who argue it will be used to discriminate and deport immigrants and refugees simply because of their ethnicity.
Belgium has been reeling from a number of terrorist plots that have originated within the immigrant communities inside the country. The planning cell for the November 2015 Paris attacks were based inside Belgium, and the Brussels bombings only a few months later highlighted the deteriorating security situation in the country.
Belgium also holds the dubious honor of contributing the greatest share of foreign fighters traveling to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS in western Europe.
As a response to the Brussels bombing, members of the Belgian government have sought to tighten laws regarding immigration as a means of improving security. Despite their claims that the methods will simply streamline the government’s ability to remove dangerous criminals quickly, critics insist it will break apart families and affect innocent Belgians who know nothing else besides life in Belgium.
This law in Belgium, and the slew of other political activities and movements occurring across Europe in the face of the immigration crisis, illustrate an immigrant and refugee integration process fraught with difficulty, as host nations and people’s attempt to sort through the especially challenging conditions of taking in mass numbers of immigrants who do not share commonality with their host nation along religious, cultural, or ethnic lines.
Conflicts between immigrant and ethnic minority communities with their host nation have popped up all across Europe, and have become a lightning rod for political controversy on the left and right. Nationalist and right-wing movements have benefitted in particular, with many attributing last summer’s Brexit and the rise of right-wing politician Geert Wilders in the Netherlands to a sort of ‘clash of civilizations’ playing out in politics.
Meanwhile in Belgium, lawyers, and activists are preparing lawsuits and arguments for the coming legal battle over a law which is purported to assist law enforcement in its quest to root out terrorism, one in which it has bungled publicly for years.
Image courtesy of Reuters