Flemish Secession hoax
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Tout ça (ne nous rendra pas la Belgique), also called "The Flemish Secession Hoax," was a hoax perpetrated by the French-language Belgian public TV station RTBF on Wednesday, December 13, 2006. The event was the creation of the journalist Philippe Dutilleul (fr). Regular programming on the channel La Une was interrupted for a news bulletin claiming that the Flemish parliament had issued a unilateral declaration of independence from the Kingdom of Belgium, mimicking the Belgian secession from the Netherlands some 175 years earlier.
Interviews with prominent Belgian politicians (some of whom had been informed about the hoax) as well as staged footage of the evacuation of the royal family were included so as to add credence to the news report.
The broadcast of the report led to some consternation in French-speaking Belgium. A hotline set up by the station was swamped by calls. Thirty minutes into the broadcast, on demand of the media minister of the French-speaking community in Belgium, Fadila Laanan (fr), an on-screen message identified it as a fiction.
The hoax had been prepared over a period of 2 years under the codename BBB for Bye-bye Belgium.
Prominent Belgian politicians, including Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, Flemish Minister-President Yves Leterme and Walloon Minister-President Elio Di Rupo, condemned the report as "irresponsible." International reaction included an angry statement by Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, who said, "This is not the kind of issue you play around with."
- Belgian viewers fall for TV hoax announcing breakaway state Belgian viewers fall for TV hoax announcing breakaway state, International Herald Tribune, 2006-12-14. Accessed 2008-02-23.
- BBC news report
- Belgian viewers fall for TV hoax announcing breakaway state International Herald Tribune article documenting the hoax.
- RTBF's website (in French).
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