Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon on Monday defended his right-wing New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) from accusations of racism, after party leader and Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever sparked outrage with comments about Muslims.
In an interview with Flemish weekly De Zondag, De Wever claimed the Muslim community in Belgium caused "tension" by seeking to carve out a place for Islam in the public sphere, and drew parallels between the country's Jewish and Muslim populations.
"[Orthodox Jews] also attach a lot of importance to external religious symbols," De Wever, whose party is part of the national government, told the newspaper. "But they accept the consequences … They avoid conflicts. That is the difference. Muslims want a place in the public space, in education, with their external religious symbols. That causes tension."