Has Belgium created ‘a system of apartheid’?


Source: BBC

Two months after the Paris attacks, Belgium is in the midst of an anguished debate about Islamist radicalisation. There’s anger in Molenbeek – the Brussels district that was home to three of the attackers – at government plans for house-to-house searches. And a former senior police official has warned that Belgium’s failure to integrate its Muslim minority has created a de facto “system of apartheid”.

At a police training academy on the outskirts of Brussels, new recruits are wrestling one another to the ground – practising techniques of unarmed restraint. There are about 40 of them – fresh-faced young people in their 20s, men and women – but what’s immediately noticeable is that with one exception, they’re all white.

Watching them is Paul Jacobs. For 20 years he dealt with discrimination complaints in the Belgian police – and he’s just finished a session teaching this class “inter-cultural communication”.

They discussed why so many Belgian youngsters go to fight in Syria – a higher proportion, relative to the population, than from any other country in Europe. And a heated argument broke out when Suhaila, the only non-white recruit – from a Moroccan background, like many Belgian Muslims – said she could understand why young Muslims might become jihadis.

“The whole class was reacting – over-reacting,” Jacobs says. “It was the first time they had talked with someone of a Moroccan background.”

For a visitor to Brussels, where more than a quarter of the population is Muslim, that’s a surprising thought. But Paul Jacobs is not surprised.

“I am a little bit scared to use this term,” he says. “But I think we live in a system of apartheid. You really have ghettos. And what is more important, and more dangerous, is not that people aren’t living together – it’s the mental ghetto.”

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  1. Where do you find inaccessible city neighborhoods? In Belgium absolutely not! France, on the other hand, in every major city, same with london, Cologne or Amsterdam. But this is kept quiet. The neighbors of the small Belium would look better iniden and take a leaf out of the Belgians who dare to call things by name

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