Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Belgian Minister of Interior Denies Link between Capital’s Mosque, Extremism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Belgian police officers and firefighters stand outside the Grand Mosque in Brussels, Belgium November 26, 2015. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

The Belgian Minister of Interior Jan Jambon has denied the recent news on the export of extremist intellect from the Grand Mosque located at the Islamic Cultural Center in Brussels.

In November, after Paris Attacks, the minister stated that he demanded a report on Brussels’ Central Mosque. Yet, according to Jambon, it turned out that the Mosque is not a threat, and that its activities are similar to those practiced at other mosques in Belgium.

The minister said that the extremist intellect that encourages on fighting abroad is spreading among the youth through internet and some small mosques that work discretely.

Dr. Jamal bin Saleh, director of the center told Asharq Al-Awsat that they are always keen to deliver moderate message of moderate Islam, and to take care of the youth by raising awareness among them. Many Islamic figures in Brussels have greeted the statements of the minister.

Some media outlets and figures from the right-wing extremist parties have pointed to a link between the mosque and the extremist intellect. Yet officials from the center have repeatedly denied these allegations.

Abdul Hadi Akel, imam of the Islamic center’s mosque in Brussels stated to Asharq Al-Aswat that Friday speeches always encourage on cohabitation, tolerance, and spread of the moderate Islam.

As other mosques and Islamic associations in Brussels, the Islamic Center ensures to organize activities like free breakfasts, nights of Quran reading, Zakat distribution, and religious lessons attended by scholars and sheikhs from Al-Azhar and Saudi Arabia. Bin Saleh said that he don’t think the Belgium authorities will enclose the mosques, and considered that monitoring them is better, as it don’t harm Muslims . He added that the Islamic Center organizes sessions for the Imams and preaches to renew religious speech and to adapt it to conform the current situation.

Days after Paris attacks, the Imam and employees of Brussels Islamic Center’s Mosque underwent medical tests, after they received suspicious correspondences containing odd powder, fear of being Anthrax virus.

Commenting on threats that targeted the mosque, Sheikh Abdul Hadi said that they are witnessing a distress and that they will face it with tolerance and patience, not violence.

Following Paris attacks, the Belgian authorities have announced the implementation of additional measures that aim to enhance security and censure on the exterior borders. The measures included the spread of hundreds of troops, allocation of additional funds to combat the threats of terrorism and to restrict the dangers of internet and the non-authorized mosques.

While a million Muslims currently live in the country and practice their religious rituals in 300 different mosques, the official estimations expect Muslims to reach half of Brussels’ population by 2050. It is worth mentioning that the first group of the Muslim communities arrived in Belgium in the fifties, to work in reconstruction after the end of the World War II.