A year ago, a suicide Islamic commando struck Zaventen airport in Brussels and detonated bombs in its tube. The terrorists planned the attack from Molenbeek, a district of Brussels and the multicultural laboratory in the heart of Europe. Paris’ terrorists also lived there, as did many other Jihadist cells. A year later, what have Belgian authorities done to cure Molenbeek’s sickness? Nothing, and the situation is very bad.
The mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur, warned in an interview with the newspaper De Morgen: “Everyone knows that all mosques in Brussels are in the hands of the Salafists,” the most radical sect of Islam. The Belgian police discovered 51 non-governmental organizations tied to terrorists, and said that it had raided 8,600 homes in which lived a total of 22,668 inhabitants, a quarter of the total population of Molenbeek.
Today Belgian intelligence, which unfortunately has proven to be not very intelligent, constantly monitors 6,168 people in Molenbeek. It is an army. But the resistance to the dismantling of jihadist cells starts at the top, from the deputy mayor of Molenbeek, Ahmed el Khannouss, who condemned the preventive measures as “unjustified”: “We thought that these practices had ended with the Second World War, when people were targeted for their religion.”
In February, a report by Belgium’s Unit for Threat Analysis (OCAD) reported that “radical Islam” is winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim community at the expense of “moderate Islam,” which is not moderate, but institutional. OCAD revealed that Salafists were working hard to “change Belgian society and make it more Islamic.” “An increasing number of mosques and Islamic centers in Belgium are under the influence of a Wahhabi and Salafi apparatus. More and more mosques in Brussels, Antwerp and Mechelen are strictly Wahhabi.” Today, the Salafis also have their own satellite channels in Belgium.
90 percent of students between seventeen and eighteen years old in Molenbeek consider terrorists to be “heroes.” There is also a demographic reason that Molenbeek is called “Europe’s Gaza.” While the region has an average of 7,209 inhabitants per square kilometer, in Molenbeek it is four times higher, 26,515 per square kilometer. Two journalists, Christophe Lamfalussy (La Libre) and Jean-Pierre Martin have just published a book, Molenbeek-sur-Jihad (Grasset), in which they accuse Belgian politicians of being “identified with the electorate.” Basically, Islam asks and the politicians give. “It is clear that we have too few official mosques in Molenbeek,” the Mayor of Molenbeek, Françoise Schepmans, just said. Too few mosques? In Molenbeek? There are 25, to which must be added 16 local prayer halls.
Lamfalussy and Martin write in their book that Belgium is le ventre mou, the “soft underbelly” of Europe. Brussels has just gained another law-abiding Muslim citizen. She is Malika el Aroud, the widow of the terrorist who killed the Afghan commander Massoud two days before September 11, 2001. Malika was in prison because she inspired the jihadist network. The Belgian authorities thought to contribute to the fight against terrorism by releasing her. In the same weeks, Belgian authorities tried to arrest the former Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tzipi Livni, who had to cancel a trip to Brussels after prosecutors prepared to have a court convened for Livni so as to accuse her of “war crimes” committed during the war in Gaza, when she was foreign minister. Poor Belgium, which releases Jihadists and tries to arrest Israelis.
In Brussels, practising Catholics today amount to 12% of the population; some 19% are active Muslims. La Libre daily reveals the fate of Belgian Christianity: 35 churches out of 110 in Brussels will be closed since practising Christians are just 1.5 percent of the population, according to a survey at the University of Leuven.
A year after the terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium looks exhausted, and Islam moves slowly toward submerging it.
Giulio Meotti, cultural editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author. He is the author of three books: A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism (Encounter Books); J’Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel (Mantua Books), and La fine dell’Europa, about the Christian and demographic decline in Europe. He is a columnist at Arutz Sheva and his writings have appeared in publications including the Wall Street Journal, FrontPage, Commentary, and The Geller Report.