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Robert Cusack

Syrian regime welcomes far-right politician and 'worst Belgian ever'

Filip Dewinter at an 'anti-Islamisation' event, hosted by Vlaams Belang in 2007 [AFP]

Date of publication: 3 February, 2017

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The Syrian regime has received support from most of Europe's far right political parties, but neglects to mention this fact to its citizens.

The Syrian regime received a delegation of European lawmakers on Friday, but official Syrian media coverage neglected to mention their far-right, Islamophobic views.

The delegation was led by Filip Dewinter, the leader of the Belgian far-right party, Vlaams Belang [Flemish Interest] and self-proclaimed Islamophobe.

A Belgian magazine's survey of 10,000 people elected Dewinter the 'worst Beligan ever' in 2005. The politician beat King Leopold II, whose policies killed 10 million people in Congo in the 19th century.

Dewinter was a member of the political party, Vlaams Blok, which was found guilty of spreading racist content under Belgium's anti-discrimination laws in 2004.

Haaretz reports that Dewinter visited the graves of Nazi soldiers to pay his respects in 1988, quoting an oath used by the SS.

In an interview with the New York magazine, Jewish Week, Dewinter told reporters the "Islamisation of Europe is a frightening thing".

"'Xenophobia' is not the word I would use. If it absolutely must be a 'phobia' let it be 'Islamophobia'. Yes, we're afraid of Islam," Dewinter said.

The Belgian politician reportedly told his Syrian hosts that "Europe had picked the wrong side in the war in Syria" during discussions on the on-going Syrian civil war.

The far-right politician has visited the Syrian president a number of times in recent years to discuss European sanctions against individuals in the Syrian regime.

The European Union has ordered sanctions against those believed to have committed or facilitated violence against citizens - including three generals who allegedly ordered chemical weapons attacks in a Damascus suburb.

"Slowly but surely, everyone starts to realize that we have to see him [Bashar al-Assad]  as an ally against Salafism and extremism," Dewinters said in March 2015.

"Look at countries like Libya, Yemen and Egypt. The Arab Spring has brought a lot of misery everywhere else."

Dewinters is not the only European far-right politician to be welcomed to Damascus. 

The Syrian regime has received support from most of Europe's far right political parties, including France's National Front, Italy's Forza Nuova, Greece's Golden Dawn and the British National Party.

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