Wiesenthal Centre To Belgian Federal Justice Minister: Le Soir's Photo Of A Jewish Newborn In Context Of A Birth Control Debate Is An Arguably Egregious Case Of Incitement

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"This is just too reminiscent of the Nazi euphemism: 'euthanasia of life unworthy of life', in other words 'extermination'”

Paris, 3 October 2012

In a letter to the Belgian Federal Justice Minister, Annemie Turtelboom, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, protested an, arguably, egregious case of media incitement of possibly the greatest magnitude since the Holocaust.

Samuels lamented that "Le Soir, the Belgian French language daily, on 1 October, illustrated a statement on overpopulation by Brussels Mayor, Freddy Thielemans, with a photo of a Jewish newborn during his circumcision. The Hebrew embroidery on the pillow leaves no doubt as to the child’s identity."

The letter pointed out that "the Mayor’s allusion to the need for birth control in view of the 'demographic explosion' headlined Le Soir’s statistical report on demographic growth. This revealed a 16.6% increase over the last decade in 19 districts and a 250,000 surplus in population in the capital.

In 2010 alone, there were 18,612 births over 9,433 deaths and 46,949 new immigrants versus 17,543 departures i.e. a net growth of over 30,000 new mouths to feed and jobs to find."

The Mayor's spokesman Nicolas Dassonville was quoted: “It is a fact, we have in Brussels many large families numbering 7 or 8 children. They demand social welfare housing, which does not exist.”

Samuels congratulated Mayor Thielemans, for only last month apologising "for the role the municipality and political and administrative authorities in the city of Brussels played in the deportation of the Jews.” Though his invitation to the ceremony was marked in memory of deported “citizens of Brussels” – revised after charges of rewriting history – this was the first ever formal recognition of State complicity in the Holocaust."

The letter stressed that "it may sound strange to hear Socialist Mayor now seeming to speak in language that smacks of Nazi eugenics. Nevertheless, he significantly clarified that is was not a religious issue. 'You find this problem in Muslim families, just as in Jewish families and even among Christians'."

Samuels suggested to the Minister that " the problem is not with the
Mayor, it is with Le Soir. Our members captured the outrageous screen shots below, which were replaced with a newborn of unidentifiable religious or ethnic affinity after several calls of outrage."

The letter continued, stating that "the photo's choice could not have been co-incidental, neither has its replacement undone the subliminal damage among Le Soir’s readers, to the effect that Brussels has too many Jewish babies. Only imagine the impact on Belgium had the pillow been embroidered with an Islamic Sura in Arabic."

Samuels emphasised that "indeed, whether Muslim, Jewish or Christian -children, aged or handicapped – defenceless or vulnerable social sectors cannot be exploited in a debate on the economy and demographic control.

This is just too reminiscent of the Nazi euphemism: 'euthanasia of life unworthy of life', in other words 'extermination'."

The Centre called on the Federal Justice Ministry, which is responsible for Communications. "To condemn and investigate the grounds of intent to incite on the part of Le Soir."
"If Jewish or any other babies are an endangered species in Brussels, then why is Belgium the current Chair of the Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research," queried Samuels.

For further information contact Shimon Samuels on 0033(0)609770158, join the Center on Facebook,www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400.000 members. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS and the Latin American Parliament.