(JTA) — A senior royal in Belgium said that criticism of his conduct reminds him of the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust.
Prince Laurent, who has a record both of making provocative statements and of controversy around his use of public funds, made the remark in an interview for Het Nieuwsblad that was published last week, prompting criticism by Belgian Jews.
Laurent said he feels that he has become a “punching bag” solely “because I’m the brother or son of a king. When this sort of thing happens, I think immediately about the Jews who were shot dead only because they were Jewish.”
The prince — younger brother to Philippe, king of the Belgians – is the subject of criticism in parliament allegedly for submitting inaccurate reports of his work hours.
Last year, Laurent faced a reduction in pay for attending without authorization a ceremony celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of China’s People’s Liberation Army – in its earliest years, a repressive tool that China’s Communist rulers used to kill millions of political opponents and countless others. The gaffe cost him 10 percent of his annual allowance of $359,000.
Following criticism over the comparison, Laurent said he would visit the Kazerne Dossin Holocaust Memorial in Mechelen in September, according to Michael Freilich, editor in chief of the Joods Actueel newspaper.
In 2016, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel banned the prince from unauthorized talks with senior foreign officials following a series of unapproved excursions, including to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to Libya between 2008 and 2010, where he had been hoping to go into business with one of Moammar Ghadafi’s sons.