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Brussels seminar to unite forces against sects and their supporters




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Recently, the F.C.C.E. held a special seminar in Brussels, where guests from legislative, religious and governmental backgrounds discussed the topics of respecting, protecting religious beliefs and exposing the dangers of sects, writes Laurent Jacques.

At the meeting, independent journalist Roland Delcourt who followed sects’ activities introduced a sect called "Almighty God" or "Eastern Lightning", clearly exposing fundamental differences between religions and sects.

F.C.C.E. special seminar in Brussels

Delcourt claimed that in order to grow and increase the number of their followers, the Church of Almighty God engages in dubious activities, discriminating and slandering other sects and different Christian religions.

Christian opponents and the international media have in turn described it as a sect and even as a "terrorist organization".

It seems pretty clear that this movement has nothing Christian other than its name.

The Vatican has rejected the sect which claims to be Christian. In April 2013, the Vatican news agency Agenzia Fides made the following remarks about it: "with its methods of abuse and blackmail against the heads of the Catholic Church, used to mount cleverly constructed scandals", The Church of Almighty God "sows confusion among evangelical and Catholic Christians".

Roland Delcourt also presented a report about “Bitter Winter” and its founder Massimo Introvigne, who has defended groups as diverse as the Unification Church "Moonies", the Church of Scientology, the Chinese Church Eastern Lightning (accused of links to the murder of Wu Shuoyanen in 2014), the Order of the Solar Temple (responsible for 74 deaths in mass murder-suicides), Aum Shinrikyo (responsible for the 1995 Tokyo sarin gas attack) and Shincheonji “Church of Jesus”, accused of having furthered the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea as a result of its follower’s unethical behaviour.

He believes that Bitter Winter and Massimo Introvigne find a favourable response only in ultra-conservative and far-right circles.

 Mr Introvigne is never the last when it comes to attacking those who propose means of combating the phenomenon of sects, such as Alain Gest, who chaired a Commission of Inquiry into Sects and whose observatory Guānchá Tái was created following the report made in 1995 by a parliamentary commission of inquiry on sects, chaired by and whose rapporteur is Jacques Guyard.

In his book: Une Secte au cœur de la République, Serge Faubert reveals to us, with supporting documents, the extent of the infiltration of sects in the political class, economic circles, national defence and the education.

In an article published on March 15, 2021 on Bitter Winter, Introvigne attacks Luigi Corvaglia, member of the board of directors and of the scientific committee of F.E.C.R.I.S. (European Federation of Research and Information Centers on Sectarianism), for claiming that Bitter Winter is the only source that claims the Church of Almighty God is being persecuted in China.

He also castigates Luigi Corvaglia for having organised, according to him, an anti-sect coalition in the company of Gerry Armstrong (former member of the Church of Scientology, persecuted by the sect), Alexander Dvorkin, vice-president of F.E.C.R.I.S. and Pastor Thomas Gandow (who was amoung the first to make the link between sects and the far-right), during a conference in Salekhard, Siberia.

Finally, Mr Delcourt quoted Bruno Fouchereau (author of: Mafia des Sectes) who wrote in Le Monde Diplomatique: “90% of sects are of American origin or based in the United States, and others like Almighty God are from Asia but are remotely controlled and mainly financed from the United States.“

At the meeting, Mr. André Lacroix, an independent writer who has been to Tibet many times and published several books, gave a special insight into how some Western media mislead the people and use untrue and false news to gain attention and achieve a certain kind of political Purpose. In particular, some organisations, under the banner of freedom of belief, are doing the work of helping sects, confuse the public, and create factors of instability for society.

Whether in Europe or other parts of the world, we should always be alert and mindful of the rise and threats to society of various sectarian organisations.



110th Republic of China National Day Reception held in Brussels



The Taipei Representative Office in the EU and Belgium held the 110th Republic of China National Day Reception, 30 September, welcoming friends and dignitaries from the EU and Belgium. Held in accordance with the Belgian pandemic prevention regulations, the event was attended by more than 100 guests, including members of the European Parliament, the Belgian Senate, the Belgian House of Representatives, and the Belgian regional parliaments, along with others from all walks of life. In his speech at the reception, Ambassador Ming-Yen Tsai outlined the current status of the close exchanges between Taiwan, and the EU and Belgium in various fields such as the economy and trade, education, technology, green energy, digital economy, disinformation and carbon reduction.

The Ambassador also took the opportunity to thank the European Parliament, the Belgian Senate, the Belgian House of Representatives, and the Flemish Parliament for passing a number of Taiwan-friendly resolutions over the past year, including ones supporting Taiwan-EU cooperation, a Taiwan-EU bilateral investment agreement, Taiwan’s international participation, and those expressing concern regarding peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.


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35 years - and still going strong!



The year 1986 was marked by both advances and setbacks. Technology advances helped the Soviet Union launch the Mir Space Station and had the UK and France building the Chunnel. Sadly, it also saw the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and the explosion of one of the nuclear reactors at Chernobyl.

In Belgium, the country’s footballers came home to a hero’s welcome after finishing 4th in the Mexico World Cup.

The year was also notable for one other event: the opening of L’Orchidee Blanche in Brussels, now one of the acknowledged best Vietnamese restaurants in the country.


Back in 1986, when Katia Nguyen (pictured) opened the restaurant in what was then a quiet Brussels neighbourhood, she could not have realised what a huge success it would be.

This year, the restaurant marks its 35th anniversary, a real milestone,  and it has come a long in the intervening years, so much so  that it is now a byword for fine Asian cuisine, not just in this now-bustling area of Brussels but further afield.

Indeed, word had spread so far about the quality of the excellent Vietnamese food available here that, a few years ago, it was awarded the prestige title of “Best Asian Restaurant in Belgium” by the renowned food guide, Gault and Millau.


Katia is the first to accept that her success also owes a lot to her team, who just happen to be all-female (this partly reflects the traditional role women occupy in the Vietnamese kitchen).

The longest serving among them is Trinh, who has been dishing up wonderful Vietnamese meals in the small, open-plan kitchen her for a couple of decades now, while other “veteran” staff members include Huong, who has been here 15 years and Linh, a  relative newcomer having worked here for four years!

They, along with their colleagues, are beautifully dressed in authentic Vietnamese costumes,something else the resto is famous for. To hold on to staff for so long also reflects well on the excellent management style of Katia.

It is all a long way from the days, back in the 1970s, when Katia first arrived in this country for her studies. Like so many of her compatriots she had fled the Vietnam war in search of a better life in the West and she set about starting a new life in her “new” home – Belgium.

For connoisseurs of great Vietnamese food that was, well, rather good news.

The standard set when Katia, still relatively freshly arrived in Belgium from Saigon, opened the restaurant back in 1986 is just as high today as it was then.

Despite the awful health pandemic that has wrought havoc in the hospitality sector here, Katia’s “army” of loyal customers are now flooding back to sample the wonderful delights concocted by her highly talented, Vietnamese-born team.

The restaurant is located close to the ULB university and everything here is prepared in house. The dishes are based on either traditional or more contemporary recipes but similar to the best you might find in Vietnam itself. Many diners here consider the spring rolls the best in Belgium but if they are succulent, the gourmet riches of this house take you on a culinary journey, stretching from North to South Vietnam and all stops in between.

The restaurant never really closed during the lockdowns as it continued to serve a brisk takeaway service. Now fully reopened, takeaways account for about 30 per cent of the business. Customers can either collect their order or have it delivered to their home/office.

With summer upon us, it’s good to know there is now a terrace seating up to 20 people on the street outside while, at the back, is a pleasant outside area with space for about 30 and open until October.

Inside, the restaurant seats 38 people downstairs and 32 upstairs. There is also a great value-for-money, two course, lunch menu, costing just €13, which is particularly popular.

The a la carte choice is huge and features a range of meat,fish and poultry dishes – all are fabulous and very tasty. There’s also a great drinks and wine list and look out too for a lovely suggestions menu which changes weekly.

The charming and very welcoming Katia has come a very long way since she first set foot in Belgium. For a restaurant still to be thriving 35 years after it opened is a massive achievement, particularly in this “post-pandemic” era but for that same place to have been under the same ownership all that time is quite remarkable… which, actually, also very accurately describes both the cuisine and service here.

Happy 35th birthday L’Orchidee Blanche!

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European Jewish leader to seek meeting with Belgian Interior Minister over plan to remove army protection at Jewish institutions



The European Jewish Association deplores that the decision was taken without consultation with Jewish communities and without a suitable alternative being proposed. EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin rails against decision, saying it makes ‘Zero sense’ and adding that in absence of providing alternative security arrangements, it leaves Jews “wide open with a target sign on our backs”. The Belgian planned move takes place as anti-semitism is increasing in Europe, not decreasing, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.

The head of the Europen Jewish Association (EJA), a Brussels-based umbrella group representing Jewish communities across Europe, has written to Belgian Interior Minister, Annelies Verlinden, seeking an urgent meeting with her to discuss a government plan to remove army protection from Jewish buildings and institutions on 1 September. Rabbi Menachem Margolin, who has learned "with great alarm" the plan to remove army protection through its partner organization the Forum of Jewish organizations in Antwerp and Belgian MP Michael Freilich, will ask the minister for the move to be reconsidered. He is calling for a urgent meeting "in order to find common ground and to try and mitigate the effects of this proposal".

The European Jewish Association deplores that the decision was taken without consultation with Jewish communities and without a suitable alternative being proposed. In Belgium the security threat is currently medium according to the metrics provided by governments own Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis (CUTA). But for Jewish Communities, as well as the American and Israeli embassies, the threat remains “serious and probable”. Army presence at Jewish buildings has been in place since the terrorist attack against the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May 2014 which left four people dead.


In a statement, EJA Chairman Rabbi Margolin said: “The Belgian government has up until now been exemplary in its protection of Jewish Communities. In fact, we at the European Jewish Association have held up the Belgian example as one to be emulated by other member qtates. For this dedication to keeping us safe and secure we have always expressed our utmost gratitude and appreciation."

"Is it also because of this dedication that the decision to remove the army on 1 September makes Zero sense,’’ he added. "Unlike the US and Israeli embassies, Jewish communities do not have access to any State security apparatus," he noted. “It is alarming too that Jewish communities have not even been properly consulted about this move. Nor is the government presently proposing any alternatives. As of now, it leaves Jews wide open and with a target on our backs," deplored Rabbi Margolin. The Belgian planned move takes place as anti-semitism is increasing in Europe, not decreasing.

"Belgium, sadly is not immune to this. The pandemic, the recent Gaza operation and its fallout are worrying Jews enough as it is, without this even added to the equation. Worse, it sends a signal to other European countries to do likewise. I am urging the Belgian government to reconsider this decision or at the very least offer a solution in its stead,” said Rabbi Margolin.


MP Michael Freilich is reportedly proposing a legislation that would see a €3 million fund made available to Jewish communities to increase their security in light of the 1 September plans. It will be urging the government to preserve the same level of security as before. The text of the resolution is to be discussed and voted tomorrow (6 July) in the Parliament’s committee on internal affairs. The Interior Minister’s Office couldn’t be joined for a comment on the plan. Around 35,000 Jews live in Belgium, mainly in Brussels and Antwerp.

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