Minister for the Interior Patrick Dewael accused one of the centre’s employees of acting subjectively during a hunger strike by rejected Afghan asylum seekers this summer, subsequently preventing the centre from becoming involved in the affair. Some 300 Afghan asylum seekers are still occupying the Sainte-Croix church in Ixelles, Brussels, in protest at an official decision to expel from Belgium a total of 800 Afghan asylum seekers within three to nine months.
Legally, one of the centre’s roles is to manage contact with new immigrants, and it believes it should have been called upon to intervene during the hunger strike. Opposition party Christian Democrats have accused the coalition government of forcing Leman into resigning by making his work increasingly difficult. Leman is thought to have resented the increased political interference in the operation of the centre as well as changes to the organisation’s structure, introduced by the last government.
The Centre for Equal Opportunities and against Racism became an extremely important tool for raising racism awareness in Belgium and has put constant pressure on succeeding governments to improve race relations.