A decade and a half after being forced to disband by courts in 2004 for inciting racial discrimination, the Flemish far-right nationalist party Vlaams Belang won 12 percent of the seats in Belgium’s Chamber of Representatives—a win, given that it cemented the group's standing as the second most popular party in the region. Its current leaders promote an anti-immigrant, anti-refugee platform, and one of its newly elected representatives was recently charged with denying the Holocaust.
But a local non-profit that works with refugees, Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, is "upcycling" the party's recent campaign posters for a different cause: to showcase the stories of newcomers to Belgium. After the elections in May, agency Mortierbrigade took down political posters featuring Vlaams Belang politicians and the party’s slogan “Eerst onze mensen,” or “Our people first,” a slogan that will feel familiar to any politically aware Americans.
Instead of throwing the posters away, the agency recycled them into new posters and printed portraits of four refugees, along with a new slogan, “Ook onze mensen,” or “Our people too.” The portraits and new slogan also appeared on a billboard in the center of Brussels on Flemish Community Day, which celebrates local culture and language. The refugees’ stories are also told in audio format on Spotify.