Belgium took another step down the road of separation, with the New Flemish Alliance winning the largest number of seats in the election yesterday.
There is a somewhat similar history of language imposition to Catalunya, since the French speakers ran the country for the first 100 years after independence in 1830. Now the Flemish-speakers are back with a vengeance, ready to “protect” their language at any cost.
A major flashpoint centers around several predominantly French speaking suburbs around Brussels (which is in the Dutch speaking northern part of the country).
Many of the same kind of stupid stories I’ve heard here repeat themselves there:
Mayor Francis Vermeiren is determined to uphold Flemishness. All visitors to the town hall must bring an interpreter if they don't speak Dutch, as staff are banned from speaking another language
Some who are learning Dutch feel they could be made to feel more welcome in Zaventem. Souhaila, a 16-year-old student, says her native French is banned from the school grounds.
"If they catch us speaking French in playground they tell us to stop. If we continue we get a detention. This bothers me," she says.
The irony that much of the wealth of Belgium has come as a side-effect of being the capital of a more united Europe is apparently lost on the now richer Flemish speaking part.