Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism

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The Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism (CEOOR), also referred to as Centre for Equal Opportunities and Fight against Racism (CEOFR) or translated as Centre for Equal Opportunities and Struggle against Racism[1] (Dutch: Centrum voor gelijkheid van kansen en voor racismebestrijding or CGKR, French: Centre pour l'égalité des chances et la lutte contre le racisme or CECLR) is a Belgian government agency under the responsibility of the Prime Minister of Belgium. Its director is Jozef de Witte.

The Centre was founded in 1993 by an Act of the Belgian Chamber of People's Representatives.[2]

Tasks and goals[edit]

The Centre lists as its principal tasks:

  • Fighting Racism and Discrimination
  • Spotlight on Integration Policy
  • Foreigners' Rights and Recent Immigration
  • Fighting Poverty
  • Fighting Human Trafficking
  • Training / Documentation / Information Campaigns

The CEOOR has as its main goal to aid victims of discrimination, after an act of discrimination has occurred, or to prevent such acts.

It has four ways of achieving this goal :

  • Assisting discrimination victims. This can be done by giving (legal) advice or support, mediation or going to court.
  • Creating awareness among the public opinion for discrimination issues, by training, education, documentation and public relations.
  • Working with authorities and different actors in society on preventive anti-discrimination and integration policies.
  • Recommendations to policy makers on the different issues it addresses.[3]

Cases[edit]

The CEOOR was, together with the Liga voor Mensenrechten (Human Rights League), a plaintiff in the law case that led to the conviction of three Vlaams Blok organisations for "incitement to hate and discrimination."[4][5]

In April 2002 the Centre lodged a complaint against the Centre Islamique et Culturel de Belgique because of a video on its web site in which Israel was equated with a Nazi dictatorship. In June 2002, the CEOOR lodged another complaint against the Belgian Arab European League, also for racism.[6]

Criticism[edit]

The Centre has been criticized by, among others, Matthias Storme.[7][8] Storme sees the Centre as leading a "political inquisition" in suppressing alternative political views.[7] Storme was earlier successful in fighting a case before the Belgian Supreme Court, where he showed that some articles of the Belgian anti-discrimination law were in violation with the constitutionally protected right of freedom of speech.[9] Another publisher at the The Brussels Journal, Paul Beliën, withdrew a text upon the Centre's officially filed complaint.[10][11]

On 21 July 2004, the Centre together with the Dutch-speaking Human Rights League in Belgium received the country's annual "Democracy Award". It is given to persons or organisations that "protect or enhance political democracy or facilitate the participation of citizens in society".[12] The jury from the organisations, Trefpunt and the anti-globalist Democratie 2000, awarded this prize to the Centre and Liga for their role in the condemnation of the Vlaams Blok in a case before the Ghent Court of Appeals.[13]

In November 2010, the Centre came under scrutiny and received protests from Parliamentarians after that is was confronted with anti-Judaic texts published on their website regarding stoning of women. The Centre removed thereafter the racist texts from their site.[14]

Financials[edit]

The 2005 financial report of the Centre showed that of its total revenue of €6.2 million, €4.4 million came from the Belgian National Lottery and €1.0 million from the Centre's projects. Expenditure for personnel were €4.0 million. The Centre posted a net result of €705,000 in 2005. The balance at the end of the year 2005 showed, that the Centre's equity was €4.94 million.[15][16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alternative CEOOR names in which 'Opposition' is replaced with 'Fight' or 'Struggle', abbreviated CEOFR (though not as the unrelated CEOSR), see for instance:
  2. ^ Act of February 15, 1993 pertaining to the foundation of a centre for equal opportunities and opposition to racism, retrieved on 23 October 2006.
  3. ^ About the Centre - Activities
  4. ^ Court says Vlaams Blok conviction is sound, Expatriate Online, 10 November 2004
  5. ^ Court rules Vlaams Blok is racist, BBC News, 9 November 2004
  6. ^ Annual report %gt; Belgium, The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, 2003.
  7. ^ a b Vuile Wijven! Vuile Democraten! Vuile Hetero's! Een Leerling van Marcuse als Grootinquisiteur ("Dirty Women! Dirty Democrats! Dirty Heteros! An Apprentice of Marcuse as Grand Inquisitor"), The Brussels Journal, 27 May 2006
  8. ^ De Witte en de Wet ("De Witte and the Law"), 25 February 2006 - Matthias Storme & de vrijheid om te discrimineren ("Matthias Storme & the freedom to discriminate") Politics.be
  9. ^ Discrimineren is een mensenrecht ("To Discriminate is a Human Right"), Katholieke Nieuwsblad, 21 January 2005
  10. ^ (French) Le racisme meurtrier du Vlaams Belang ("Racism murderer of Vlaams Belang") Citation: "Paul Beliën, idéologue du parti, assimilait sur son site Internet les personnes d’origine arabe « à des fauves assoiffés de sang, qui ont appris lors de leur fête annuelle à égorger le mouton ». Et appelait les Flamands à se débarrasser d’eux. Le titre de son pamphlet xénophobe ? « Donnez-nous des armes. »." ("Paul Beliën, [Vlaams Belang] party ideologist, on his web site assimilated the persons of Arab origin 'with bloodthirsty tawny-coloureds, who have learned from their yearly feast to cut the sheep's throat'. And called upon the Flemish to get rid of them. The title of his xenophobe pamphlet? ‘Give us weapons’.") journal (in France) l'Humanité, 19 May 2006, retrieved on 10 February 2010
  11. ^ Critical Reflections on the Participative Nature of Blogs pages 15-16, Bart Cammaerts (London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Media and Communications), American University of Paris March 2008, retrieved 19 February 2010
  12. ^ (Dutch) Prijs voor democratie naar Liga voor Mensenrechten en Centrum Gelijke Kansen ("Democracy Award to Human Rights League and Centre Equal Opportunities"), Het Nieuwsblad, 1 July 2004.
  13. ^ Prijs voor de democratie uitgereikt ("Prize for the Democracy Awarded"), De Tijd, 1 June 2004
  14. ^ Protest against the Centre (in French)
  15. ^ Financial report 2005
  16. ^ Jaarverslag 2005

External links[edit]