‘Freedom of religion is no longer necessary’, writes Bart De Wever, Chairman of N-VA, the biggest political party in Belgium, in his book On Identity published last week. This strong statement is no coincidence amid the revision of the Belgian Constitution, which guarantees the most fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of religion.
The Flemish party N-VA, led by De Wever, is at the center of many controversies undermining religious freedom. They successfully antagonized the Muslim and Jewish communities with a ban of ritual slaughter, which entered into force on 1 January 2019 in Flanders. Now, De Wever seems to take Christians as his new target. In his book On Identity, he downplays the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperors and describes how ‘Christianity wiped away a whole culture in a matter of decades’ during the Roman Empire (p. 94). He continues with a provocative question: ‘Can the Muslims in Europe become what the Christians were in the Roman empire?’ (p. 105).