Following the Belgian elections last May, a part of Flanders did not show its most welcoming side, preferring a closed community to a tolerant and open one. For NGO Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, that defends refugees’ rights, mortierbrigade draw attention to the importance of tolerance and integration of refugees in the Flanders of tomorrow. The agency collected Belgian extreme right-wing party Vlaams Belang’s election posters after the elections and turned a negative message that excludes a large part of the population into a positive story.
Eef Heylighen, spokesperson for Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen:
“Flanders is a community in which everyone should feel good. Yet, it tells a story of exclusion that leaves no place for multiculturality. At Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, we want a warm and inclusive community, in which there is also room for newcomers. For people who are looking for a place to feel safe, and to move together towards a more open and tolerant society. In this modern Flanders, we do not say ‘our people first’ but we say, ‘our people too’.”
On the website ookonzemensen.be, people can listen to podcasts from the portrayed people. Stories to listen to, but also to read as they are narrated through mean tweets. Each word used to tell the story refers to a tweet with an intolerant or racist character. A way to show how imprinted with hate these stories are and to turn a negative message into a message of hope.