Corona in Antwerp: ‘We especially don’t want to stigmatize’


It took a while for Governor Cathy Berx to obtain detailed information about the corona fireplaces in Antwerp. Yes, really f * ck: Sciensano didn’t want to give it at first. Only the Flemish Agency for Care and Health was allowed to view the data, the sleep department managed by party member Wouter Beke.

Berx immediately went to work and cautiously communicated that these were neighborhoods and neighborhoods where mainly ‘people with a migration background’ live. No, she did not want to stigmatize, she added at his top, but no further evil word about Cathy, who has ushered in the uprising of the cities against the failing corona policy at a higher level. Belgian and Flemish. Even though official Joris Moonens from the Agency for Care and Health will tell a soothing story here, as if it were all a matter of perception and that the system ‘in developmentis. I will. By May 11, the contact tracking system should have been fully operational, and three months later it is still struggling with slow labs, IT issues and just bureaucratic laxity or lack of leadership.

A favorable wind

Cathy Berx, from outgoing politician to exemplary crisis manager.

The Antwerp city council knew a little earlier that it went completely wrong, also not thanks to the data from Sciensano … but because the aforementioned Flemish agency had accidentally attached an Excel with detailed neighborhood data to an email, we read that in The time. By mistake. How lucky can you be. Or was there a favorable wind blowing and did someone at Sciensano think ‘I hang this on it and stumble, maybe someone will do something with it’?

The background to this fatal and conscious non-communication is political: people know all too well where the calf is bound, the virology party under the leadership of Marc Van Ranst certainly also, but the information would be ‘stigmatizing’ for certain communities and play a role in the extreme right. The latter has certainly succeeded, now that we know the data and the way people tried to cover it up.

The ‘leaked’ information speaks volumes, when combined with the findings of the local contact tracers (not those of Wouter Beke): between 24 and 31 July, a quarter of the new corona infections in the city of Antwerp were recorded in Borgerhout. Deurne, the Seefhoek and Stuivenberg also recorded a high degree of contamination. In the Old Town, there are only 20 positive cases.

The point is simply that within the Moroccan community, which dominates these neighborhoods, there are apparently many who do not follow the rules, and that the higher authorities do not want to draw any conclusions from them. That is serious. The virus does start from fireplaces, but of course does not stop at the borders of Borgerhout or Deurne. In a later phase, we will return to a national lockdown, with all the social and economic consequences that this entails, because mistakes have been made, but there is just as much guilty absence and therefore deliberate withholding of data.

If there are more than average infections in the Moroccan community, there is a reason.

Shy Whites

The fact that the ‘stigmatizing’ data is now public – I repeat, due to the tenacity of Cathy Berx and a few bloopers at the Flemish and federal level – on the other hand awakens other dogs: the racism alert is already starting to take effect. One Jamal Kasmi, a street worker of Algerian origin who was noticed on July 21 in Antwerp as a co-organizer of an unauthorized BLM demonstration, warns in The morning for discrimination: ‘Whites now walk around me in a big arc. In the store they look at me angrily to make it clear that I shouldn’t get too close. ”

Well, what had he thought now. Note the word ‘whites’, as if natives should feel guilty for not wanting to be infected. And pay attention to the racist reading of the covid story, as if it were our fault that the Moroccan community lives in Borgerhout and, from a kind of disadvantage, cannot deal with public health rules.

Just a little while longer and Dallila Hermans and a handful of wokes will interfere to accuse Governor Berx of racism, and to see the cluster description in Antwerp as something fascist reminiscent of ghettos, see also the curfew arrangement with its associations. The same applies to the ‘Brussels youngsters’ who made amok on the hot Friday 31 July in Ostend and who challenged the police without a mask: The last news quotes the words of Mayor Tommelein completely, the VRT website did not mention Brussels youngsters.

For example, the government’s omerta and the self-censorship of certain media – public broadcaster – lead to an outright distortion of the reality that is a life-to-death issue today.

However, the point is simple and has nothing to do with stigmas, nothing racism: if there are more than average infections in the Moroccan community, there is a reason. It must be that there is a lack of the discipline of the mask, that the social distance is not respected, as are the limited bubbles and everything that we do not like but usually still yield because we just have to.

Do they have to cycle around in Duffel with a mouth mask because they are sitting in dense crowds in Antwerp North for the sacrificial feast?

The multicultural trap

Whitewashing or stashing numbers and data does not help here, just pointing the finger of course does not. At this point, efforts should be made to insulate the fireplaces, to test them en masse and to really compel people to stay at home, under police supervision if necessary. Again I have to quote Berx: controlling public health and the pandemic is now all that matters.

Later on there are of course some ‘sensitivities’ that hang even more in a mist of political correctness. For example, the question of the usefulness of multicultural pampering and de facto segregation, in which people speak of Turkish and Moroccan (and indeed also Jewish) communities, as if that is the most normal thing in the world, while it concerns populations that do not participate in our society, which they do not want from their own individuality, and do not pick up at a time when these crucial signals. In Antwerp, one-fourth of school-aged youth speak a language other than Dutch at home. That is an indication.

By not naming things, one plays with fire and provokes what one is trying to prevent. It cannot be ruled out that people start to grumble because of stricter measures that are being introduced all over the province – and soon perhaps all over the Belgian territory – because one particular population group is sweeping its feet at the instructions. Do they have to cycle around in Duffel with a mouth mask because they are sitting in dense crowds in Antwerp North for the sacrificial feast? Public support and solidarity will be undermined if people in such a pandemic start to communicate woolly or do not dare to take decisive measures, even if they ‘target’ a certain population.

Again: it is up to the Flemish level to wake up and go along with the voluntarism of the local authorities, instead of always looking upwards like the classic underdog. Where is Jan Jambon sitting anyway these days? In Tuscany, it turns out. Have a nice holiday, Prime Minister.


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