Miss Belgium Draws Flemish Ire

BRUSSELS -- Newly crowned Miss Belgium speaks several languages, including French, English and Czech, but it seems that does not count for much when she does not speak Dutch.

After she failed to answer a question in elementary Dutch and switched to French during Saturday night's election, Alizee Poulicek, 20, was booed by some of the 3,400 fans in Antwerp, the heart of Dutch-speaking Flanders.

In a country that has been without a government for almost 200 days because of continued strife between Dutch- and French-speaking parties, the linguistic abilities of a beauty queen take on a bigger significance.

"Miss Belgium is not tweetalig," wrote the Francophone paper La Libre, using the Dutch word for bilingual, to highlight ever-increasing Flemish demands that all Belgians in the public eye should also speak the majority language.

"I have to try, learn more," she told VRT network in halting Dutch. She continued in French. "I spoke almost no Dutch when I started this adventure."