Belgian police charge Islamist over mini-riot
Belgian prosecutors on Thursday charged a high-profile Islamist radical with stoking hatred and violence during racial disturbances in Brussels last week.
Fouad Belkacem, a 30-year-old Belgian man of Moroccan origin, was picked up at 6:00 am (0400 GMT) at his family home in the northern city of Antwerp, and was placed in custody in a city jail.
Antwerp prosecutors’ spokesman Paul Van Tigchelt said he was charged with “incitement to hatred and violence against a group of people because of their beliefs,” a charge that could carry a sentence of between one month and one year behind bars.
Belkacem is being pursued after posting an 11-minute video on YouTube the day after the controversial detention of a woman wearing a niqab — or full Muslim veil, which is banned under Belgian law.
Police had said the woman assaulted officers, but Belkacem, self-styled spokesman for a group called Sharia4Belgium, said at the time that “the devil’s servants who held our sister want to wage war on Muslims, but they won’t win in Belgium.”
In May, Belkacem was sentenced to two years in prison, one suspended, for incitement to racial hatred, but pending an appeal had yet to do time. He will go before a magistrate next week.
Previously, Belkacem had publicly urged Belgian Muslims to join armed jihadists.
The Sharia4Belgium website was inaccessible on Thursday.
The Molenbeek district of Brussels was hit by two nights of street disturbances in the wake of the incident on May 31.