Plan would require migrants to pledge acceptance of ‘European values’

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Belgian Parliament is expected to pass a law requiring non-EU migrants and refugees to sign a pledge declaring their acceptance of “European values.”

The proposal for a “newcomers’ statement” should be passed in the next few months, according to a spokesman for Belgium’s secretary of state for asylum and migration, Theo Francken, who drafted the plan.

Muslims in the Molenbeek section of Brussels square off with riot police.
Muslims in the Molenbeek section of Brussels square off with riot police.

“[Many people] are coming [to Belgium] from countries with other values,” said Francken’s spokesman Laurent Mutambayi.

“If they want to build their life here in Europe [we have] no problem with that but they have to sign this statement that they accept our values.”

Critics of the “newcomers’ statement” proposal said it would force those seeking Belgian residency, particularly Muslims, to sign a pledge that they accept, among other things, gay rights and equality between men and women.

“It’s an extra tool for the immigration office to keep some people out of Belgium,” said Didier Vanderslycke from Orbit, an organization working on diversity and migration.

“The integration process can start when you have the residence and not when you sign a document that you will integrate. It’s really a bad thing as a welcome for people,” he said.

Those who plan to reside in Belgium for more than three months would have to sign the statement, which also includes a pledge to prevent and report any attempts to commit “acts of terrorism.”

Mutambayi said those who are not deemed to be integrating sufficiently will not be allowed to stay in the country.

The statement would not apply to asylum seekers and students, the spokesman said.

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