A key player of a parliamentary democracy are political parties. If new ideas arise or if the existing parties do not fulfill all expectations – new parties enter the stage. Most of them disappear after a certain time, a few need years to get a certain weight, and some become success stories. As the German Greens belong to the last category – and I am one of their founders, I would like to participate in the debate if the Belgian Islam Party should be forbidden.
During the last local elections, two of their candidates were elected in the Communes of Molenbeek (1,478 votes, 4,12%) and Anderlecht (1,839 votes, 4,13%). For the national and regional elections in May 2014, some fourteen thousand citizens (0,2 %) voted for the Islam Party candidates in Brussels and Liège.
For the local elections this autumn, they announced that they will put forward candidates in nearly 30 municipalities and that will fight that men and women should be separated on public transport – and that the civil and penal laws of Belgium should be replaced by the Sharia law. It is understandable that these political aims create – fortunately – resistance.
But some of the voices cross a red line. Some politicians from around the political spectrum are proposing to forbid this party. I do not share these nervous reactions against this splinter party. Why? Three reasons.
1. A decision to stigmatise them outlaws will make it easy for them to declare themselves as victims of our system.
2. We live in a democratic, open, respectful and tolerant society, which is – compared to all other structures in the past – a model how people should live together. This means as well that we have to accept that those strange ideas are expressed from a political party.
3. If you start to forbid a party, it is like opening pandora box: where will you continue and where will you stop. What and how many of “our values” (who is defining them?) have to be denied, to become a candidate to be kicked out of the electoral competition legally?
No, let us fight politically those authoritarian, destructive, intolerant, narrow-minded and racist ideas.