Page 3, 28th January 1938

28th January 1938
Page 3

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People: Le Barbouilleur
Locations: Brussels, Moscow


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—And Catholic 'Students Turned Themselves Into Hooligans

Front Our Own Correspondent


In Belgium, Florimond Grammens, surnamed " lc Barbouillcur (the " Blackerout ") has achieved the summum of notoriety.

His story is important as a typical example of the Fleming-Walloon rivalry which is one of the many internal quarrels which are racking Belgium.

M. Grammens has specialised in surreptitiously blacking out the French names of thoroughfares and other indications in French, in Flemish districts of Belgium.

Thus does this Flemish "idealist " seek to serve the cause of Mother Flanders, and the " liberation " of the " Flemish Nation."

At the outset, this was taken as a good joke. He was treated as " crazy." Yet his persevering obstinacy has Caused him to be tried and condemned by the Belgian Courts of Law. This has set the halo of a glorious martyrdom round him.

Telegrams and resolutions have been addressed to the King and Government by Flemish sympathisers and organisations in immense numbers on behalf of the "martyr."

Attack on Prison

A couple of hundred Flemish Catholic students from the Louvain University rushed to Tongres in cars, taxis, and there assailed the prison, breaking down its gates, in a frantic endeavour to release Grammens.

It was an " expedition" of the sort that converts peaceable students into rabid rioters.

"Le Barbouilleur was released two days ago by an Order of the Minister of Justice.

Pandemonia The other day he attended the debates in the Senate at Brussels. Flemish SenaION sought sought to interpellate the Government on his case Incidents supervened. Pandemania reigned. The sitting was suspended.

Then resumed. Finally it was abruptly terminated. The National Flemings caused such a tumult, such brouhahas.

All this because these ardent Flemings have come to be persuaded that the Flemish language law is not being properly applied.

I have no wish to enter into this linguist

difference. The Flemish have very justifiably secured fair-play by legislation for their language rights. But some politicians have used this legitimate aspiration of the excellent Flemish section of the Belgian nation as a platform for electoral and party purposes.

The Language Question

Thus has the Flemish language question developed into a mystique that obscures the real issue, the proper and practical use and development of the Flemish language— which is that of the vast majority of the Belgians—in the schools, churches. law courts, and administrations. All this has been secured by legislation. Thus, the French speaking element of Belgium, that is the Walloons and a majority of the Brussels citizens who are called " Francophils " now judge that the "Flemish cause " has become exaggerated, and its application a hardship to them.

Yet the Flemings think that the hardearned Flemish language (equality) law is not being properly applied. The " Francophils " think that the Flemings have overstepped the bounds. Such is the situation. I purposely refrain from 'epressing an opinion.

The pity is that Belgium should at this critical moment be rent by division when all the forces of order ought to unite to meet the Moscow menace.

" Blacking Out" Catches On This " blacking out " has caught on. Others are abroad at night blacking out the French street names. Thus the so-called "Traitor" Borms, who might, under other circumstances, have been the " Masrvk " of nights ago. with his assistance, and charged with " blacking out."

Agitation of a sort prevails. At any other moment it could be treated lightly. But at this moment whilst Moscow is attempting to place its paw over Belgium, any such agitation looks more like a tragedy.

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