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Belgium website asks tipsters to report illegal immigrants

April 10, 2012 | 12:39 pm

A far-right Belgian political party has unveiled a deeply controversial new website where tipsters can report illegal immigrants working on the black market or abusing the social security system.

The Flemish Interest Party set up its “Hotline Illegality” website this week, encouraging people to send in information about illegal work, crime and other problems caused by immigrants.

The party argues that the website is needed because Belgium is doing too little to curb illegal immigration. Flemish Interest politician Filip Dewinter said "tens of thousands of illegal immigrants" plague Belgium and complained that the government wanted to sweep problems under the rug.

Jozef De Witte, director of the Center for Equality and Struggle Against Racism, reportedly told a Belgium radio station that the website was akin to tactics used by Nazis or the East German secret police.

"This is completely illegal. Mr. Dewinter knows this very well. He wants to shock and provoke," the activist was quoted by Agence France-Presse as telling the Radio 1 station.

The new website echoes a similar effort in the Netherlands, created by the Dutch Freedom Party to track complaints about immigrants, that was met with an international outcry over perceived racism and ultimately condemned by the Dutch and European parliaments. 

"These websites are not in line with the European values that we defend," European Union spokesman Olivier Bailly told Europe Online.

Immigrants make up roughly 9% of the population in Belgium, according to the most recent statistics gathered by the International Organization for Migration. Morocco and Turkey are the most common countries that immigrants come from, according to the Migrant Integration Policy Index.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

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