French media have nicknamed Belgium and more particularly Molenbeek the jihadi capital of Europe. Politico Europe is talking about Europe’s terror weak spot. France’s Le Figaro calls Belgium a hub for jihadi networks while The Guardian labels Belgium’s Molenbeek as a hotspot for terrorism.
Foreign media target Belgium and this does not come as a surprise after various incidents or attacks that could all be linked to our country in one way or another (think about Mehdi Nemmouche and his attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, or Ayoub-el-Khazzani who plotted a failed terrorist attack on the high-speed Thalys train between Brussels and Paris).
Belgium also has the highest per capita rate of jihadi fighters in Syria: 40 per million inhabitants, compared to 18 in France, 14.5 in the Netherlands and 7.5 in Germany.
Molenbeek, a “ghetto of misery”
The image of Molenbeek and Belgium in general is not a good one, despite deradicalisation efforts paying off in Vilvoorde and Antwerp and intelligence services stopping a terrorist network in Verviers.
The Guardian writes this about Molenbeek, a municipality in the west of Brussels: “The ordinary daytime strolling atmosphere is entirely comfortable, but it (Molenbeek) enjoys a reputation for hardline clandestine Salafist cells which the Belgian security services claim to know a lot about but never seem able to deal with.”
Le Figaro puts it this way: “For the 4th time in 18 months the traces after an attack – successful or not – lead detectives to this ghetto of misery, 6 kilometres from the monumental European headquarters”. The ghetto obviously refers to Molenbeek.
The foreign criticism may not come as a surprise as the Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon himself also described Brussels as “the weakest link” in the international fight against terrorism earlier this week, even before the Paris attacks.
Flandersnews.be / Expatica