Vice President Joe Biden may have said of the United States that the “middle class has been buried over the last four years,” but another politician overseas wants to stop some of that middle (and poorer) class from ever being born.
The Socialist mayor of Brussels, Freddy Thielemans, says limiting the number of children born to parents in Brussels should be an issue up for discussion as part of his city’s effort to combat poverty. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports:
The mayor of Brussels has said that families with many children were "a problem found among Muslims, Jews and even Christians."
Speaking at a debate in Brussels on Sept. 27, Mayor Freddy Thielemans added that the city was incapable of providing housing solutions that match the demands of families with many children and that bringing into the world "so many children is irresponsible."
Methods to reduce population growth "should be a matter for discussion," he also said.
The English-language Belgian site Flanders News writes that Thielemans was addressing the demographic boom in Brussels which he believes has fueled poverty.
His spokesman later clarified that limiting the number of children isn’t actually part of any policy plan, and even added that the issue wouldn’t be in the purview of local authorities.
Flanders News quotes the spokesman saying: "It's a fact: in Brussels there are many families with seven or eight children. They apply for social flats, but flats to accommodate such numbers do not exist."
Belgian politicians – including members of his own Socialist Party - are expressing dismay at the mayor’s remarks. Philippe Moureaux, who is the Socialist mayor of Molenbeek, posted on Twitter (via JTA): "In a free society, having children is a right which cannot be up for negotiation." Flanders News adds:
Politicians from other parties have given Mr Thielemans's initiative the thumbs down: Belgian Interior Minister Joëlle Milquet, who heads the Christian democrat list in the City, can hardly believe the mayor made the pronouncement, while Francophone liberal Alain Courtois says it's a bad idea.
This blog that tracks what it believes to be anti-Christian developments at the European Union, which is headquartered in Brussels, writes of the mayor’s idea:
This leaves us speechless. But Thielemans statement is only coherent in this de-christianized society where killing of babies and elderly people is a mean to keep public spending down. Why not officially limit the number of children? And when he claims that the “problem” of large families is equally distributed between Muslims, Jewish and Christians than he is targeting only the most traditional ones that still have children.
JTA reports that Brussels’ population is 1.1 million. It quotes Belgian sociologist Jan Hertogen’s statistics which show that Muslims make up 22 percent of the city's population. According to the CCOJB which represents Belgium’s French-speaking Jews, between 20,000 and 30,000 Jews live in Brussels.
But for Mr. Thielemans, even a 2-3% Jewish population is apparently too much.