Muslim Executive Committee Chairman: ‘We’re Keen on Fighting Extremism in Prisons’

Brussels – Belgium’s Muslim Executive Committee Chairman Salah Echallaoui told Asharq Al-Awsat that the committee has done more than it should in a very short period of time following the terrorist bombings that hit Brussels in March 2016.

When asked about the role played by the committee to restore the image of Muslims following the critics they’ve been receiving during the past period, Echallaoui said that the committee has made many efforts to explain things, clarify the image, spread awareness among youth and push them away from the threat of extremism all this in a very short period following the attacks that hit Belgium last year.

“In addition to our support for the Belgians and our calls for the unity of all the society’s segments and people to stand together against extremism and terrorism, we have carried out many measures on ground, including what is related with preparing all Imams to understand the radical and extremist speeches and means of countering them.”

“The committee also employed religious advisors inside prisons in order to supervise the spiritual state for prisoners and face extremist speech there,” Echallaoui added.

He noted that the committee also made several partnerships with several universities throughout Belgium in order to establish a religious structure in the subjects related to Islam within the academic community and in cooperation with senior researchers and professors.

“Not to mention our communication with the society, other different religions and political parties to reassure them and explain for them that Islam constitutes an additional value, and it contributed in building the western civilization in past centuries,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Echallaoui explained that Islam is also capable of carrying the same message and contribute in building the current civilization if it got any chance and if Muslims understood the role they could play in light of the reality in which they live.

Echallaoui said that all what is cultural unites humanity, thus “we notice that terrorists first attack museums and all what resemble the country’s culture,” answering the question on the reason why he has been lately participating in cultural activities beside political and religious figures in one of the churches in Brussels.

Belgium’s Muslim Executive Committee Chairman added that people without culture are easy to be manipulated and youth without culture can be easily affected, and radicalism could not be faced without spreading an intermediate culture that brings people together.

“For this reason, we are keen to let all Belgians participate in these meetings that unite them no matter what their sect is,” he said.