Leading Belgian Flemish (Dutch language) daily "De Morgen" had an interesting scoop on Monday August 18, 2007. In the Flemish parliament offices of the Vlaams Belang Party in Brussels, it met it's historical leader Philip Dewinter (on the right in the picture), hosting the German maverick right-wing politician Dr. Udo Ulfkotte (to the left).
The meeting was about an appeal to the highest Belgian administrative Court, Ulfkotte intends to make against the refusal of Brussels Mayor Thielemans to allow an Europe-wide "Anti-Eurabia" manifestation, that Ulfkotte had planned for September 11 at the European Parliament buildings. This manifestation was intended to underline Mr. U.'s ambitions for the European Parliament elections, due in 2008. A critical portrait of Dr. Udo Ulfkotte has been published by Dialog International, a German-American blog, on July 31, 2007. That text is also incorporated in Uncontrolled Fallout from the Pepperdine Conference: Udo Ulfkotte, that I published today in Legal Alien @ New York.
A welcome change of battlefield: from streetwise hooligans to the courtroom
As positive response to Mr. Ulfkotte's Brussels manifestation proposal had remained restricted to the usual rightwing mini-formations in different countries, the Brussels interdiction may have been a welcome development to him. His recent identification with "European Judeo-Christian values", to be anchored in a new "Christian-ecological" party that he intends to create, doesn't marry well with the image of some thousand neonazis, baldheads and hooligans, marching through the Brussels streets, provoking indignation with the population and laughter with the counter-demonstrators.
Awkward and embarrassing allies
A public battle in a courtroom, where he might position himself as a protagonist of "free expression" and a staunch defender of Europe against "the Islamic tsunami", suits him better. That is why he accepted the offer of the separatist and racist (condemnation in 2004) Vlaams Belang Party ("quarantained" by all other Belgian parties) to help him out with a very special lawyer: Mr. Hugo Coveliers (his foot is visible in the picture).
Coveliers used to be an Antwerp city council member for the liberal VLD party. At the last communal elections (2007), he created a new rightwing formation (VLOTT) that leaned heavily to- (and upon) the Vlaams Belang. Together with the VB, he lost those elections in Antwerp. At the federal parliamentary Belgian elections in June, he associated completely with the VB, getting a third position on the VB list for the Belgian Senate. Those elections were also unsuccessful for the extremist formations, but Coveliers got his seat. The man is also a lawyer. In the eyes of Dewinter, he must be an ideal person for the job.
Ulfkotte, caught red-handed, pleads naivety and features his nonpoliticalness
But for Ulfkotte? - Dr. Udo was apparently taken by surprise, when the journalists came in. (Did Dewinter play him that nasty trick?) He denied any political cooperation with Dewinter and his party. VB-members were allowed to march with "Pax Europa" in the manifestation, but he had turned away an offer of the VB "Ordedienst" to put up a security and order service for the manifestation. All political symbols and party-flags were to be outlawed in his manifestation.
Ulfkotte positioned himself during that interview as an "unpolitical" person, unbeknown with the Belgian juridical system, just looking for help. "Indeed," said Dewinter ("looking amused", dixit De Morgen), "he is a kind of Pim Fortuyn or Geert Wilders. See for yourself: his statements are totally unpolitical!"
Dewinter lets Ulfkotte ramble and puts forward a murderous comparison
Here we must allow for some appreciation for Dewinter's ironical capacities and for the cunning ways in which he succeeds in enrolling the German Doctor in his ailing movement. For both names of Dutch anti-Islamic activists he mentions, are the names of ... politicians! Fortuyn participated in the 2002 Dutch parliamentary elections with his LPF (Lijst Pim Fortuyn) list and won, days after he was murdered by an extremist animal-protector, more than 20 seats in the 150 strong Dutch parliament. Geert Wilders is leader of a (PVV) party, with an anti-Islamic mission, who won 12 seats in November 2006. Both politicians consider(ed) themselves as "anti-politicians", ready to abuse of the parliamentary system for populist agitation and fear mongering. For some years, Dewinter has been unsuccessfully proposing collaboration to the latter (Wilders). By putting Ulfkotte and Wilders in one sack, he catches two flies in one move: Putting himself in the position of an acceptable ally of non-quarantained movements abroad, and, subtly, defining Ulfkotte as the populist extremist politician he denies being.
Is Dr. Udo Ulfkotte as naive as he pretends?
"We do not collaborate with this [VB] party", says Ulfkotte, drinking his cup of tea or coffee at Dewinter's conference table. "I am completely upset because of that interdiction," he declares. "Do I look like a hooligan? Of course, I accepted readily Dewinter's proposal to arrange a lawyer for our organisation. I don't know anybody here in Brussels, I am completely jammed. How could I find my way in the Belgian juridical system on my own?"
Poor Udo! Somebody (a Moroccan, a Turk?) must have stolen his telephone directory at home. Otherwise, he would have engaged a, preferably francophone, non-socialist Brussels lawyer (Below, we will tell you, why...), without links to politics!
We cannot get rid of the impression, that Dr. Udo, caught red-handed, is desperately excusing himself for the awkward company he keeps. But, if we believe, for a moment, that he is really as naive as he pretends, he would make a poor politician, if ever elected. To let yourself be embarrassed in this way by a second-rank regional extremist, is unforgivable for a man with such far-reaching pretensions as he is.
The manipulator manipulated
In the end, we do not believe, however, that Ulfkotte will succeed in denying his association with a party that has been condemned for racism and forced to change its name and program. As a former foreign editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (1986-2003) and self-appointed "international security expert", boasting about his links with the German Bundesnachrichtendienst, the Israeli Mossad and the British MI6, as well as international oil companies, he cannot but have known, what company he was going to keep. Maybe, he thinks, that in associating with his Flemish ally, exclusively for the sake of a juridical procedure, he can win its sympathy, without having to subscribe to its racist ideology.
Indeed. He needs badly allies who may provide some simulacrum of a mass following. The only "masses" he can summon in Germany, are the "Bürger in Wut" (Outraged Citizens) party in Bremerhaven, a xenophobic and "security"- obsessed local movement, that managed to get some representatives elected in the local council earlier this year. His effort, to make the Flemish separatists and xenophobes abandon their beloved yellow lion-flags and march orderly and exclusively for the election of Dr. Ulfkotte into the EP, seems to have lead to a mini-disaster.
Ulfkotte's collaboration with racists cannot be denied any more
Why? - In July this year, Ulfkotte started a defamation procedure in Germany against a blogger (Jochen Hoff, Berlin), who had qualified him as a "racist". Another blogger, who had merely linked to that blog, was also summoned (bigberta, Watchblog Islamophobie). Betraying his own "freedom of expression" principles, he, together with his organisation "Pax Europa", claims more than 100.000 Euros from the two bloggers. German judges ordered a provisional suppression of the incriminated texts.
Consequences for Ulfkotte's chances in his complaint against German bloggers
But how can Ulfkotte, now that his links with a movement that has been condemned for "racism", have been revealed, maintain that Hoff's qualification was outrageous? Will a German judge disregard a definitive judgment by the highest Belgian court? Not very likely.
Mr. Ulfkotte, who spent already much money on expensive lawyers in that German case, will have to explain to the contributors to the Pax Europe organisation, who thought they were helping the promotion of "European Judeo-Christian Values", how and why he wasted their Euros. Will he have enough money left, to pay for Coveliers in Belgium? Or will he, "jammed" again, resort to financial help or a gift "in natura" (if Coveliers offers free services) from his Flemish friends, with whom he "does not collaborate"?
Ulfkotte's courtroom activities in a wider perspective
As we wrote today in "Legal Alien @ New York" (Uncontrolled Fallout from the Pepperdine Conference: Udo Ulfkotte), the American and European protagonists of the anti-"Eurabia" Pepperdine Conference in Malibu, California, of June 11, 2007, will not be very happy with Mr. Ulfkotte's handling of one of it's main instructions to counter Islam in Europe. That strategy is called "advocacy", and is meant to abuse the juridical system in order to harass Muslims and their property (and anti-racists) by legal and administrative means. Ulfkotte, however, spoils his capital in efforts to take personal revenge on relatively unimportant bloggers and tries to kill freedom of speech.
Stuck in the Belgian communitarian swamp
Now, on top of that, he hands the advocacy issue in Belgium over to classical ("traditional extreme right") and separatist actors, whom they cannot associate with. A good opportunity to nail the social-democrats once again to their supposed "dhimminess" (Brussels Mayor Thielemans is affiliated to the Belgian (French) Socialist Party - Parti Socialiste, PS) is foregone. With VB-man Coveliers as a lawyer, the issue will for sure become part of the eternal Belgian language-community feud, where all French-speaking people will automatically solidarise with the attacked PS, who, as the biggest Walloon party, embody Frenchness in the country.
How Ulfkotte selects his fear-mongering issues
Once again, Mr. Ulfkotte appears as an embarrassing ally to a cause, he chooses to adopt as his own. In an upcoming article, we will study his previous (pre-2001) obsession with the Israeli Mossad as a danger to European security. An obsession, he apparently traded in after September 11, for his actual themas, that contrast remarkably with the former one.