Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has confirmed an earlier comment by the country’s interior minister, who said that a portion of the Muslim community was “dancing” in the streets following the deadly Brussels attacks in March.
“I confirm that there have been expressions of support for the attacks. The council of [national] security has also been informed [about the incident],” Michel said, as cited by Belga news agency.
He added, however, that the apparent support for the deadly attacks came from “minorities” in the Muslim community and that “it is not appropriate to generalize” about the community as a whole.
The controversial comments by Belgium’s Interior Minister Jan Jambon made the headlines on Saturday. The minister said that Belgium’s integration policy had caused a “cancer” within Muslim communities, many of whom “danced” after the Brussels attacks in which 32 people were killed.
“A significant section of the Muslim community danced when [the] attacks took place,” Jambon told De Standaard newspaper.
Based on the minister’s assessment, the terrorists themselves are just a “boil” which is much easier to treat than the core of the problem, which is “too deeply rooted” in the immigrant-dominated parts of society after the government “for many years ignored the warning signs.”
The fatal attacks rocked Brussels on March 22, when the Belgian capital was hit by twin suicide bombings at Brussels Airport and Maelbeek Metro station. The Metro station is not far from the building housing the EU Commission and the Council of the European Union, as well as NATO’s headquarters.
Belgium has a population of about 11 million people, 5.9 percent of whom are Muslim, Pew Research reports, based on 2010 estimates.
At the same time the country provides the highest number of Islamic State (IS formerly, ISIS/ISIL) recruits per capita in Europe, according to the United Nations Working Group.
More than 500 recruits from Belgium have gone abroad to fight with the jihadists since 2010. The UN says 207 Belgians have traveled to Syria, while 62 were denied entry, 128 have returned home, and 77 have died fighting abroad. The UN team also revealed that 46 foreign fighters, all associated with the group Sharia4Belgium, have been prosecuted.
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