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Government pledges to combat Islamic extremism

Published on 08/11/2004

8 October 2004

BRUSSELS – The Belgian government has pledged to renew its fight against Islamic extremism in the wake of the shock slaying of a Dutch filmmaker last week.

With the Netherlands still reeling after the violent murder of controversial filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, the Belgian authorities are drawing up a plan to combat instances of Islamic hate campaigning.

Van Gogh was shot and knifed in a busy street in a revenge attack for his film about the abuse of Muslim women, raising serious implications for freedom of speech.

The murder has given new impetus to an interior ministry plan to close down websites and radio transmissions that encourage Islamic fundamentalism and incite hatred.

Under the initiative, originally proposed after the March 11 Madrid attacks, radical imams will also be banned from setting foot on Belgian territory.

The assassination of Van Gogh, the grandson of the famous artist’s brother, has divided opinion in Flanders.

The incident has been widely covered in the Flemish press and has sparked a number of heated TV debates, with entrenched views on either side.

In one TV appearance, Liberal politician Hugo Coveliers said he believed young Islamists in Antwerp had no intention to accept Belgian society.

“They are not here to live happily amongst us, but they are here to impose their vision,” he argued, calling for the expulsion of foreigners who do not accept democratic values.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news