Engin Özdemir, a Fleming with Turkish roots, was present at the march at weekend that was organized to celebrate the first anniversary of the setting up of a Turkish association in Heusden-Zolder. Like a number of other municipalities in that part of Limburg, Heusden-Zolder has many residents with Turkish heritage.
Many Turks came to Limburg decades ago to work in the province’s mines. Mr Özdemir denies any wrong-doing and says that he was at the march to celebrate the anniversary of the setting up of the local Turkish association and nothing more.
However, video footage shows a number of participant in the march carrying “wolf symbols” that refer to the far-right Turkish nationalist group the Grey Wolves. Flags of the far-right Turkish party MHP are also clearly visible.
Mr Özdemir told VRT Radio 2 Limburg that he has done nothing wrong. “It was only a march organised by an association that was celebrating the first anniversary of its founding. As the Alderman responsible for festivities I was invited. The entire municipal cabinet had given its permission for the march. The police were present and there were no incidents”.
Mr Özdemir added that there is no question of him harbouring far-right or fascist ideas.
"I am a true socialist, I respect humanity and I am at the service of all the people that live in Heusden-Zolder. This has nothing to do with fascism".
Party leadership wants an explanation
The leader of the Flemish Socialist Party in Limburg Peter Vanvelthoven wants to hear an explanation about exactly what has happened before he will pass judgement. The issue will be discussed within the party at a meeting planned for later today.