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Belgians grow beards to demand govt

Some are growing beards in revolt. Artists are venting their anger on stage and students will be out in force on Sunday. Their rallying cry?

world Updated: Jan 23, 2011 01:16 IST

Some are growing beards in revolt. Artists are venting their anger on stage and students will be out in force on Sunday. Their rallying cry?

A proper government and - finally - an end to seven months of negotiations mired in recrimination. For decades, the 6 million Dutch-speaking Flemings in Belgium's north and 4.5 million Francophones in the south have grown increasingly apart in a bipolar kingdom that has contained the seeds of division since its inception in 1830.

Politicians are trying to broker a new constitution with increased regional autonomy to reflect that reality. But the work is proving long and hard. For over 220 days, since a June 13 election, the country has been rudderless.

At the Royal Flemish Theater in the heart of Brussels on Friday, actress Marijke Pinoy conveyed how little each side understood of the other.

"Rinnzekete bee bee nnz krr muuuu," she said, arms flailing and eyes flashing as she rehearsed her performance of Kurt Schwitters' Dadaist poem in an non-existent language.

"This is to show the politicians that they have to stop with their blah blah blah," she said.

She was host to a slew of Flemish artists, and some Francophone, to romote solidarity and reject nationalism in the show "Not in our Name."