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by Isabelle Panasi

This 11 million-inhabitant-European country trembled under the weight of the terrorist threat. The facts proceeded in Verviers, on January 15th, 2015, where a gun battle took place between the police and a terrorist cell. Two Jihadists, freshly returned from Syria, are counted among the dead during the operation.

However, this phenomenon is far from being recent. Already, in 2001, the famous Commander Massoud had been killed by Tunisian people residing in Belgium and holders of false Belgian passports. That should have set off alarm bells… But the extent of the phenomenon has been extended over time: the attack at the Jewish museum of Brussels, house searches in Antwerp and Brussels, fear of a second attack “like Charlie”, and finally the police intervention in Verviers. However, our government remained strange in front of all the sermons of the Imams in the Belgian mosques. Some of them, it should be specified, are well far from being “politically correct” and call sometimes the inversion of our model of society, the rejection of the Western values and even the destruction of Belgium!

As often, the political authorities have pretended not to see anything. The consequences are deplorable. We arrived at the first place of the prize list of the European countries which send the most Jihadists to the Middle East, with regard to the population. The data of the International Center for Study of Radicalisation and Political violence (ICSR) are clear: in date of second half of 2014, 440 Belgian soldiers would have left Belgium to reach Syria (4O per capita) above other European nations like Germany (between 500 and 600 Jihadists, 7.5 per capita), or France (with 1200 Jihadists, 18 per capita).

Instead of taking radical measures, the competent jurisdictions in our country discussed for days about the possible withdrawal of Belgian nationality of the young Jihadists back from Syria. An act that would have only effected those with double nationality! The statelessness have to be avoid! For a long time, Belgium was one of the rare countries to grant Belgian nationality to all-coming people, taking into account the only criterion of the residence (from two to three years), thinking that naturalisation would be synonymous with integration.

Let us note that two lacks are to be perceived in the Belgian policy: lack of security means to fight against the Jihadist threat and the bad integration policy of the Muslim communities living in Belgium.

Indeed, at the security level, Belgium can better do. Its territory of action is only comprised at the Belgian territory. The “state security” is thus confined in a surface of 30,500 square kilometres, even if the Belgian intelligence services have many contacts with their French colleagues. It remains insufficient taking into account the European and even the international character of the Jihadist problem.

With regard to the integration policy, it consisted in thwarting the phenomenon, in a soft manner, by considering the young people radicalized as victims of the society. Group therapy were thus created with the hope to understand and to help these young people, most of them coming from low-income neighbourhoods. They are victims in a way… They live in a society where discrimination at school, work, the prohibition of the veil and the niqab or racism in the police are experienced every day by Moslem citizens.

However, the real roots of the problem are ignored: on the one hand, there is a lack of will from part of the Muslims to be integrated into the Belgian society, whom the roots were bathed in Christianity in the first time and political liberalism in the second time; and on the other hand, the great desire of a minority to impose Sharia like force of law and bases of the Constitution. For example, the ultra-radical movement of Sharia4belgium, whom the chief, Fouad Belkacem, has been convicted on several occasions for terrorism and recruitment of young men to fight in Syria. He has been condemned, not so long ago, to 12 years of prison. However, against all expectations, the mosques are not the one which create the more radicalized youth but the penal institutions well where “normal” prisoners have contact with “preachers of Islam” and get out from it radicalized.

After the intervention in Verviers, the Michel government developed an anti-terrorism plan divided in twelve points whom the will to fight against the indoctrination and the radicalization in the prisons, the extension of the list of the infringements considered as terrorists, or a complete reform of the internal security.

Belgium counts around 10% of Muslims in its population, the greatest part of which resides in the capital – 40% of Muslims and nearly sixty listed mosques. Brussels will have to find new policies to support a better unity on its territory and to take up the new challenge of integration of this population still younger, based on work, education and the living-together.

1 Comment

  • julie bekaberg
    Posted 02/05/2015 13:35 0Likes

    The article contributes to the current discussion in Brussels where extremism is taken not inly as a EU external security priority but also it is a vital theme for EU’s internal security framework. Nevertheless, the article could touch more upon what could be done to cope with the question of jihadists in Europe. In addition, there should akso be a clear speration between peaceful muslim communities in Europe & political islamists group who most if the time radicalize youth in Europe.


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