Belgian king renews support for hijab-clad worker

Belgian King Albert II and Queen Paola have made a rare visit to a factory where a hijab-clad woman was forced to quit her job over death threats, to express their support for the Muslim employee and her factory colleagues against extremist threats.

Naimi Amzil, of a Moroccan origin, was forced to quit her job in the Remmery seafood factory on March 3, after receiving death threats from an extremist group for no reasons other than being a veiled Muslim. Expressing outrage at the extremist threats, the Belgian monarch decided to visit the factory to back the Muslim employee and other factory workers against the extremist death threats.

During a reception party held on the sidelines of the King’s visit Tuesday, April 19, Rick Remmery, the factory owner, said the visit represents a powerful sign of support for the Muslim employee and the factory workers.

He expressed hope that King Albert II’s visit to the factory will bring an end to the extremist death threats against the factory staff. “Arresting the culprits is not a priority for me. All I do care about is to see an end to the series of death threats,” said Remmery.

The latest in a series of death threats against the Muslim woman was a letter containing two bullets signed by an extremist group calling itself “New Free Flanders”.

The fundamentalist group said that an execution was being prepared, threatening to poison produce made at the delicatessen factory in west Flanders where she worked.

Amzil and her employer Rick Remmery hit the newsstands after they were received by King Albert II, following their refusal to bow to death threats against them.

The tragic chain of events became known last November when the “New Free Flanders”, demanded that Remmery sack 31-year-old Amzil if she insists on wearing hijab, accusing him of being “a bad Belgian who collaborates with Muslims.” The group threatened Remmery and his family in case of noncompliance.

Amzil offered to take off her hijab during working hours or resign, but a brave Remmery shrugged off both options.

Islam Online, 20 April 2005