Belgian Orthodox Jewish MP Calls For Army To Be Authorized To Perform Police Tasks


NEW YORK (VINnews) — A proposal by Belgium’s only orthodox Jewish MP, Michael Freilich is calling for patrolling military personnel to be allowed to carry out simple tasks normally reserved for police, such as identity checks and stop-and-search.

At present, military patrols have only a security and deterrent role. They are allowed to intervene if there is a clear and present danger of terrorist action, but in all other cases are required to call in the police. Freilich is concerned that the army, which has been securing synagogues and Jewish institutions in the last few years, does not have the jurisdiction to stop suspicious persons unless they physically assault them or Jewish passersby and this could endanger Jewish people being targeted by such individuals for antisemitic attacks and physical abuse.

In 2017 a man was shot dead by soldiers in the Central station in Bruxelles after an explosion in the station, since this was a case of justifiable homicide. However if a military patrol were confronted with a bank robbery, they would not be allowed to take action themselves.Freilich maintains that this is not an ideal situation.

“We don’t want to give them the general powers that the police have,” he told Gazet van Antwerpen. “We do want to prevent soldiers from having to look on helplessly.”

Freilich and his colleague from the NVA right-wing party, Theo Francken, the former secretary of state for asylum and migration, have suggested a more defined legal framework enabling soldiers to intervene when any individual is being attacked, such as in cases of robbery.

However Federal defence minister Ludivine Dedonder has issued a formal refusal to consider the proposal, stating that she sees no reason to allow military personnel to be allowed to carry out police tasks so far outside their normal responsibilities.

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