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November 22, 2019 12:26 pm
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Belgian Prosecutors Step Back From Legal Action Against Soccer Fans Who Chanted ‘Jews Burn Best’

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avatar by Ben Cohen

Supporters of Belgian soccer team FC Brugge were caught on camera chanting an antisemitic song that celebrated the Nazi Holocaust. Photo: Screenshot.

Public prosecutors in Belgium announced on Friday that they had backed away from legal action against four soccer fans who were caught on film chanting a violently antisemitic song, drawing an angry protest from the country’s sole Orthodox Jewish parliamentarian.

The four identified fans were among a larger group of supporters of  the FC Brugge soccer club who were recorded singing the offensive chant in the team’s stadium. The incident occurred on Aug. 26 last year, following a top-flight match between Brugge and rival Anderlecht. Celebrating Brugge’s victory in that contest, the fans chanted the words: “My father was in the commandos/My mother was in the SS/Together they burned the Jews/Because the Jews burn best.”

Officials from Club Brugge later identified the four fans and banned them from attending the team’s matches. As a result, according to the public prosecutor’s office in the region of West Flanders, no further measures were needed against the fans.

“We won’t be bringing them to justice,” public prosecutor Johan Lescrauwaet told news outlet De Standaard. “The stadium ban that Club Brugge handed them is, we think, a sufficient punishment.”

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But Flemish nationalist MP Michael Freilich — who last May became the first Orthodox Jew to be elected to the Belgian parliament — expressed outrage at what he called an “incomprehensible decision.”

Said Freilich: “It’s like a middle finger in my face. The signal is being given that racism and antisemitism are not a priority.”

While Freilich praised Club Brugge for banning the four supporters, he accused the public prosecutor of “making it easy” by refraining from legal measures.

“This is the way you promote impunity,” he said.

Freilich added that he would be urging Koen Geens —  Belgium’s minister of justice — to pursue the matter.

“He has the power to bring a case before a court,” Freilich said. “This must be assessed by a judge — and we will, of course, abide by that judgment.”

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