Three Belgian men were given a sharp lesson on the cost of spewing racist bile online when they were deported from the Democratic Republic of the Congo for hate-filled Facebook comments about a Black Belgian mayor.
The trio, who lived and worked in Congo, were arrested late last month for racist Facebook posts attacking Pierre Kompany, the Congolese-born mayor of the Brussels district of Ganshoren, who is also the father of Belgian football star Vincent Kompany.
The men had reportedly been angered by Kompany's calls for Belgium to apologize for the horrors of its colonial past in the Congo, responding on Facebook with racist comments against the politician. According to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, one of the men wrote that he "knew a taxidermist" who could put Kompany "among the wild animals in a museum".
The comments sparked outrage in Congo, resulting in a petition calling on the authorities to take action. The men were arrested, along with two Portuguese nationals and an Italian, and flown to the Congolese capital Kinshasa for questioning late last month, before reportedly being deported on Friday.
Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arnaud Gaspard told VICE News that the men had arrived back in Belgium after being deported for breaking anti-racism laws in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"We're aware that three Belgian nationals in Congo have been expelled by the Congolese authorities," he said, describing the expulsion as an "administrative decision" by Congolese authorities after the trio were found to have broken anti-racism laws. "Definitely a regulation was broken and considered broken by the relevant authorities. Congo has anti-racism laws, like we have in Belgium."
He said he couldn't release any more information about the men's identities, as the issue was a "private matter between these individuals and the Congolese state".
Kompany, Belgium's first Black mayor, couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday, but has previously declined to comment on the case, citing the abuse he and his family have received on social media. In January, Kompany was sent a death threat in an envelope containing white powder, leading to the evacuation of Ganshoren city hall.