A major brawl broke out between up to 100 refugees at a reception center in Belgium on Feb. 19, resulting in seven injuries and 11 arrests (video below).
The conflict reportedly broke out after a Syrian girl refused to wear a headscarf.
“Two or three Afghans had been targeting a young girl from Syria for a couple of days because she was not covering her head,” An Luyten, spokeswoman of the Red Cross, told Flanders News. “You may call this strange, because several other girls were also not wearing a headscarf. It is not clear why they were after this girl in particular.”
The brawl, during which participants used chairs, broom handles and bins as weapons, was reportedly between Afghans on one side and Iraqis and Syrians on the other.
“The four that [started the fight] have been transferred to a detention center," Luyten told Belgian HLN News, according to RT. "The seven others are individually housed and distributed in other reception centers in Flanders."
Theo Francken, Belgium’s minister of asylum and migrant, said he was angered by the incident.
“I find it totally unacceptable that some young Afghans find it necessary to tell Syrian girls to wear a headscarf and that they should not dress like Western girls,” Francken said, according to RT.
Of the seven people injured, one required hospital treatment.
“They come here, they are guests here," Francken added. "We are not theirs. They have to adapt to our rules."
However, Francken rejected a proposal by a local mayor to split refugees up along national and ethnic lines, saying this would hinder integration efforts.
Belgium has come under criticism for its treatment of refugees. Earlier in February, a refugee support group complained that police in Zeebrugge were using heavy-handed tactics while street cleaners confiscated their belongings.
“A group of Iranians told us police would regularly come and arrest them," Loic Fraiture said, according to International Business Times. "It was not the first time (…) And so there, when they are arrested, the police marks them with a number with a permanent marker on their hands, like animals."
Authorities in nearby Bruges have reportedly arrested refugees without travel documents and banned the setting up of tents in the area.