April 18. 2024. 11:50

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Flemish minister against ‘Ramadan Friendly’ label in cultural centres

The Ramadan Friendly label that indicates that no violence will be shown in a performance or art at about 20 cultural centres in Brussels could lead to self-censorship, said Minister-President and Culture Minister in the Flemish Parliament Jan Jambon who also deems the initiative to be ‘paternalistic’.

On Wednesday, Flemish news media Het Laatste Nieuws revealed a letter Jan Jambon (NV-A, ECR group in the European Parliament) wrote to the participating cultural centres in which he criticises the Ramadan Friendly Label.

“This [label] is meant to warn the audience, but it can also lead to a form of self-censorship among artists. While culture excites, challenges and surprises. In my opinion, this also displays a somewhat paternalistic vision,” he said, adding that “such religious interference in cultural and artistic practice seems very problematic to me.”

Jambon fears that, despite its good intentions, the Ramadan Friendly Label will create more prejudice and mutual distrust.

The label was created to “ensure the welcoming and respect of the public during the Ramadan period” to adopt an inclusive approach and fight discrimination at venues where a “significant part” of the audience, staff members and artists are of Muslim faith, the initiative’s website states.

According to the label’s initiators, cultural institutions have not yet sufficiently considered Ramadan.

“The consequence of this lack of attention is that institutions – despite their reflections on inclusivity – consciously or unconsciously contribute to the stigmatisation of religious practices. All the mental burden associated with the smooth running of this holy month is then carried by Muslims alone. In order to offer a constructive and collective response to this discriminatory situation, the Ramadan Friendly label proposes concrete solutions to institutions,” the website reads.

Ramadan started on 23 March and between 4 and 7% of Belgium’s population is Muslim.

(Anne-Sophie Gayet | EURACTIV.com)