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The Skinhead International: Belgium

A small neo-Nazi Skinhead scene exists in Belgium, centered around Antwerp, the city with the largest following of the far-right political party Vlaams Blok (VB), or Flemish Bloc.

Neo-Nazi Skinheads in Antwerp congregate in cafes in the area of the Vrijdagmarkt, a well-known square. Their favorite haunt is reportedly a cafe called Gilby's, when Skins from Belgium, Holland, Germany and elsewhere mix with members of far-right Belgian groups including the Vlaams Blok, the Nationalistisch Studenten Verbond (Nationalist Student Association), Voorpost (Outpost) and Were Di (Protect Yourself). After a Hitler's birthday celebration at Gilby's in April 1993, some 20 Skinheads went to another cafe where they wrecked the interior and beat up two patrons.

Skinheads were at the center of an episode of rioting in the town of Sint-Niklaas in September 1993, in which an immigrant and a police officer suffered injuries. The incident occurred after a concert by a group called the Mushrooms. The police apprehended 41 Skinheads whom they later released and escorted out of town; none were from Sint-Niklaas, according the the police.

Vlaams Blok

In the political arena, Skinheads in Belgium are naturally drawn to the Vlaams Blok, the country's most significant far-right party. The VB, whose program is Flemish nationalist and anti-immigrant, won more than 10 percent of the Flemish vote - inlcuding over 25 percent in Antwerp - in the November 1991 parliamentary elections. The party received 28 percent of the Antwerp vote in the 1994 local elections, making it the largest party in the city.

Other far-right organizations with links to the Belgian Skinheads have included the Jonge Wacht (Youth Guard), based in Antwerp and Ghent, and the francophone froup L'Assaut (Attack), which dissolved in September 1993. Its leader, Herve Van Laethem, attended a March 1993 gathering in Paris of more than 120 neo-Nazi Skinheads from across Europe. L'Assaut produced an eponymous monthly publication; following dissolution of the group, Van Laethem and others from L'Assaut began publishing a neo-Nazi sheet called Devenir, named for the French SS organ during World War II. Van Laethem died in 1994.

The British Skinhead organization Blood and Honour, which produces concerts and publishes a skinzine of the same name, has a Belgian division. At least two Belgian skinzines have appeared: Blind Justice, in Liege, and Pure Impact, in Brussels. Pure Impact has also offered tapes of Skinhead music for sale.

The British skinzine Last Chance reported in early 1994 that two British bands, Squadron and Celtic Warriors, had a recent gig in Belgium abruptly halted halfway through the first band's set, possibly due to outbreaks of fighting. In August 1992, local authorities canceled a performance by the British Skinhead band Skrewdriver that had been scheduled for a Flemish nationalist event.

A number of Belgian Skinheads reportedly follow "Odinism," the worship of the Norse god Odin, a doctrin said to have a sizable number of adherents in the Vlaams Blok as well.

Ax Attack

Two Belgian Skinheads, Steve Frank Anthony Cirock and Clivo Bruno, and a Florida Ku Klux Klansman were involved in an October 1992 attack on a black man in northern Florida. The Belgians, who had come to the United States to attend a KKK gathering in North Carolina, joined their Florida host, Klansman Jack Bullock, in chasing the car of Benjamin Ross, whom they accused of stealing a pack of cigarettes from a convenience store. After ramming Ross's car with his pick-up truck, Bullock began shooting at him. The chase and the shooting continued on foot, while Cirock attacked Ross's car with an ax. Bullock was convicted of aggravated assault with a firearm and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. Cirock, who returned with Bruno to Belgium, was charged with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, which authorities deemed insufficient to warrant his extradition. (Anti-Defamation League, 15-16)

Work Cited

Anti-Defamation League. The Skinhead International: A Worldwide Survey of Neo-Nazi Skinheads. New York: Anti-Defamation League, 1995. Anti-Defamation League, 823 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017.

Disclaimer: not all skinheads are neo-nazis or white supremacists. There are many skinheads who are non- or anti-racist, and who come from a variety of different religious and cultural backgrounds. Nizkor recognizes their achievements in anti-racism: they are part of the traditional, non-racist skinhead subculture and are not the perpetrators of the hate crimes discussed here.

Unless otherwise specified, the word "skinhead" within these pages refers only to neo-Nazi and white supremacist skinheads, the perpetrators of hate crimes and participants in racist organizations. We cannot edit the body of the text above, because it was not written by Nizkor, and to change the wording would be fraudulent. Please keep in mind that not all skinheads are racist.

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