Tuesday, 30 May 2006


On 11th May, 18 year old Hans, from a family with 'extreme right-wing' politics (Vlaams Belang) shaved his head, bought a gun, went to Anvers Grand-Place where a lady was sitting on a bench, and shot her (a Belgian mother of Turkish origin) in the back. Several streets later, he came across a young Malian man playing with his (white) 2 year old daughter, and shot them both. He was only stopped from continuing by a policeman shooting and wounding him.

The discussion in Belgium is about whether the Vlaams Block-Belang should be outlawed as a political party or whether that would create more problems. Of course, the same discussion goes on in Britain about the BNP. But what about that 18 year old? The Vif made a comment which I found interesting:
De leur côté, les magistrats de la jeunesse observent une banalisation de la violence chez les jeunes qui comparaissent dans leur bureau. Est-ce que à cause des médias, comme on l'entend régulièrement après ce genre de drame ? En partie. ... Mais, plus que la violence à la télévision ou dans les jeux vidéo, ce qui a surtout changé par rapport aux générations précédentes d'adolescents, c'est l'absence d'espoir. « Je rencontre des jeunes sans rêves, qui ne croient plus en rien », nous disait un juge bruxellois après le meurtre de X. ... « Le paradis n'existe pas », avait écrit Hans juste avant son équipée barbare.

From their perspective, youth magistrates observe that the young people who they see in their offices have an increasingly banal attitude towards violence. Is that because of the media, like we hear regularly after this type of drama? In part. ... But, more than violence on television or in video games, what has changed above all in contrast with previous generations of adolescents, is the absence of hope. "I meet young people without dreams, who don't believe in anything," a Brussellois judge said to us after X's murder. ... "Heaven doesn't exist," wrote Hans, just before his barbarous undertaking.
The Death of God leads to the death of man.


Andy said...

how sad that in the recognition of the lack of hope the secularism of Belgium has nothing to offer in response.

how outrageously evil an act - existantial angst has only ever led to evil, begetting more evil.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, `The one who is righteous will live by faith.' For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse..." Romans 1.16-20

Kristie said...

Hi, I came here via Purgatorio. I thought this post was interesting. To be honest i know very little about Belgium, although I am a little familiar with the extreme right in Europe and the issues surrounding immigrants from the middle east.

It is interesting here in California how we focus so much on the immigrants from Mexico and S. America and think it's about the "gangs" and the socio-economic status of people, etc, etc....or even that it is the "Mexicans" who bring the violence we see here. While it is true that we do see violence in these minority groups....the fact remains as andy said from the book of Romans, "there is none righteous." It can be in the Asian gangs in L.A., the streets of a historically peaceful country like Belgium, or in a white suburban high school like Columbine.

The Gospel is the only answer! (I suspect I am preaching to the choir..:))

étrangère said...

Yes Andy, and they're so convinced that Christianity is Bad that they don't think of asking Christians what to do about having no hope. I suppose also that Christians aren't living with their future hope showing clearly enough. They've accepted what the secular society tells them - that no-one's interested.

Hi Kristie, thanks for the comment - yes I recognise you from Purgatorio! Belgium isn't historically peaceful (it's been the battleground for all the major wars in Europe and has 2 linguistic communities in tension with each other) but its standard of living is exceedingly high. That contributes to the rejection of the form of Christianity they've known and also the surprised at the realisation that young people don't have any hope. Luxury had numbed society to the bankrupcy of secular humanistic rationalism.

Pray for the church here that they'd not be so pessimistic but believe in the power of the gospel - as Andy reminded us from Rom 1 - to live and speak it boldly.