Beauty queen fails to unite Belgium

DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images While Belgium’s king and interim prime minister struggle to end the country’s seemingly endless political paralysis and trade unions take to the streets in protest of the government’s inability to form a coalition, Dutch-speaking Belgians seems to be taking out their frustration on an unlikely target. Twenty-year-old Czech immigrant Alizee Poulicek, who ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
597554_MissBelgium_05.jpg
597554_MissBelgium_05.jpg

DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images

While Belgium's king and interim prime minister struggle to end the country's seemingly endless political paralysis and trade unions take to the streets in protest of the government's inability to form a coalition, Dutch-speaking Belgians seems to be taking out their frustration on an unlikely target. Twenty-year-old Czech immigrant Alizee Poulicek, who was recently crowned Miss Belgium, was booed at an event in Antwerp on Monday when it became clear that her knowledge of Dutch was minimal at best:

When the show's presenter quizzed her on her hopes for the future, she said: "I didn't understand, can you repeat?"

DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images

While Belgium’s king and interim prime minister struggle to end the country’s seemingly endless political paralysis and trade unions take to the streets in protest of the government’s inability to form a coalition, Dutch-speaking Belgians seems to be taking out their frustration on an unlikely target. Twenty-year-old Czech immigrant Alizee Poulicek, who was recently crowned Miss Belgium, was booed at an event in Antwerp on Monday when it became clear that her knowledge of Dutch was minimal at best:

When the show’s presenter quizzed her on her hopes for the future, she said: “I didn’t understand, can you repeat?”

Ms Poulicek says she has been taking language lessons and has promised to improve her standard of Dutch.

[…] 

In halting Dutch, Ms Poulicek told the Flemish network, VRT: “I have to try to learn more.”

She then went on in French: “I spoke almost no Dutch when I started this adventure.”

That has not impressed the Flemish language press. 

Poulicek has spent half her life in the Czech Republic so she presumably speaks Czech in addition to French. Here in the United States, where Miss Teen South Carolina was greeted with polite applause for this performance, the idea that a beauty queen would be booed for being insufficiently trilingual is a little baffling. Then again, even in cosmopolitan Europe, the organizers of beauty pageants don’t seem like the most enlightened bunch:

The organizer of the contest, Darlene Davos, said it could have been far worse.

“It is the least painful thing,” she said. “I would consider it different if they had said: ‘Miss Belgium is an ugly girl’.”

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

Tag: Europe

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