Postcard from... Brussels


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The Independent Online

The two towns share a language and a history of solidarity dating back to the Nazi occupation of Belgium during the Second World War. But the election of a mayor from Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration National Front party in the French town of Beaucare has brought an abrupt end to the decades-long ties.

Authorities in Farciennes, in Belgium’s French-speaking south, have called time on a twinning agreement, with the Socialist mayor citing the vastly differing views of his administration and that of the incoming mayor over the border, Julien Sanchez. Mr Sanchez was one of 11  mayors from Ms Le Pen’s populist National Front – which takes a harsh stance on immigration and advocates the break-up of the European Union – who triumphed in local elections last weekend, dealing a blow to President François Hollande.

“Politically, we cannot continue to work with people who develop such views, such ideologies,” Hughes Bayet, the mayor of Farciennes, was quoted as saying. “We must fight against speech that is simplistic and xenophobic.” 

The towns’ relationship dates back to when Belgians fleeing the Nazis were granted refuge in Beaucare, in France’s Langeudoc-Roussillon region. Mr Sanchez said he was  “disappointed” by the decision.