Belgian King Acts Over Islamic Veil Death Threat

King Albert II voices solidarity with Remmery, company boss facing death threat for defending Amzil’s right to wear a headscarf. BRUSSELS – Belgium’s King Albert II has voiced solidarity with a company boss facing a death threat for defending an employee’s right to wear an Islamic headscarf, in a case gripping the country, officials said Wednesday. The Belgian monarch will grant an audience next month to Rik Remmery, who runs a food processing firm in western Belgium, and his staff member Naima Amzil, the royal palace said. Albert II “is following the case closely and is very impressed by the manager’s decision not to give in to pressure,” said the king’s top aide cited by the Belga news agency. At the end of November Remmery received a letter, signed by a group calling itself “New Free Flanders,” demanding that he sack 31-year-old Amzil if she persisted in wearing a headscarf to work. The letter accused him of being “a bad Belgian who collaborates with Muslims,” and threatened both Remmery and his family. In response Amzil offered to take off her headscarf during working hours, and also said she could resign. But her boss refused both options, and has been backed by a growing wave of support in Belgium’s northern Flanders region, where the anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang group has backing from about a quarter of voters according to polls. One employers’ group has collected 17,000 signatures backing Remmery. “May your calm resolve become symbols of tolerance in Flanders,” said the Unizo bosses’ association. Remmery and Amzil will be received by the Belgian monarch on January 12, the royal office said.

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