De Wever under fire after comments about dead child’s parents

The Flemish nationalist leader Bart De Wever has caused a storm after he said in the interview that the parents of a two-year-old girl killed by a police bullet shared some of the responsibility for what had happened to their daughter. Mr De Wever’s comments have been criticised by politicians from both the opposition and the Flemish Nationalists’ coalition partners.

However, his party colleagues, the Interior Minister Jan Jambon and the Secretary of State responsible for asylum and migration Theo Francken, have both defended his comment.

Mr De Wever told the commercial television channel VTM that "There were a whole series of events that proceeded this. An Iraqi family asks for asylum in Germany. They try and reach England illegally, after which they as deported and returned to Germany. At the end of last year their asylum request was rejected and since then they have been picked up these times here on their way back to England. One of times they were found with their children in the refrigerator trailer of a lorry”.

“As tragic as the death of a child is; you should also dare to raise the issue of the parents’ responsibility in this case. To only talk of these people as only victims doesn’t seem right to me.”

A string of reactions

Mr De Wever’s comments provoked a furious reaction from the Green Group Leader in the Federal Parliament Kristof Calvo. In a twee Mr Calvo said that Mr De Wever is a “Barbarian”.

The Leader of the Flemish Greens Meyrem Almaci said that Mr De Wever’s words “were inappropriate and lacked respect”. She added that "His only aim was to get reactions and to further polarise opinion”.

The Flemish socialist Meryame Kitir said that parents always feel guilty when something happens to their child “The worst thing that you can do is rub their guilt in their face”.

The Flemish Liberal leader Gwendolyn Rutten also criticised Mr De Wever’s comments. On Twitter Ms Rutten wrote “Can we remain human in the face of human tragedies?”

However, the Interior Minister Jan Jambon said that Mr De Wever’s comments had bought “facts” in to the debate and “that is good for the debate”.

The Secretary of State responsible for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken had already said that what happened was “a great tragedy both for the parents and the policeman that had unintentionally caused the girl’s death”.

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