Brussels- Belgium’s Verviers has gained massive popularity among the media, for two years now it has embarked on a full-on mission to combat extremist ideology. The city of 55,000 residents has now risen to the challenge and competes with Brussels’ efforts for combating the spread of ultra-hardline mindset.
Verviers has witnessed nonstop arrests and clearance initiatives which tracked down any possible seed of terror-inspired ideology, curbing any chance of re-experiencing the horrid Mach Brussels bombings.
On the morning of 22 March 2016, three coordinated suicide bombings occurred in Belgium: two at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, and one at Maalbeek metro station in central Brussels. 32 civilians and three perpetrators were killed, and more than 300 people were injured. Another bomb was found during a search of the airport. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Mayor of Verviers Muriel Targnion told Asharq Al Awsat that several initiatives, launched as of January 2015-after thwarting an attempted terror attack targeting the city’s police center- have been receiving complete support from many government parties to combat radical ideology.
Available information tracks down 21 extremists, some of which had left to join fighting terror groups in Syria. A selected few returned, and some of which currently reside in Verviers. It is imperative that precautionary measures be taken to restraint attempts on recruiting youth and ensuring civil security, said Mayor Targnion.
The Francophone socialist, Mayor Targnion, added that the Muslim community has been highly cooperative in propagating the true face of Islam, which is an ideology founded on the basis of forgiveness and openness—resolving any misconception or misinterpretation of Islam is a great effort in fighting of the spread of extremism.
Youth must be directed to mosques as to understand the truth of their religion right from the source, and to inhibit any chance of those promoting violence in the name of religion to reach out to the population.
ISIS promotes for violence and extremism, whilst Islam is an Ideology based on forgiveness and openness and is aligned with Verviers’ values and progress, said Targnion.
The Mayor reiterated that the Muslim community is not saving an effort in cooperating with authorities to help in the fight against extremism.