So Brussels is on lockdown due to the heightened terror threat. Trains have been cancelled, people have been told to stay away from crowded areas, meaning that the centre is deserted and sporting events have been postponed. It’s no surprise really because about half a mile north-west of Brussels city centre lies the shabby suburb of Molenbeek.
It is one of Brussels’ nineteen districts. This run down area of the Belgian capital has become the epicentre of a media storm during the past week as a number of the terrorists behind the appalling Paris attacks came from Molenbeek.
Having an inquisitive mind, I wanted to find out what Molenbeek was really like. So when I bumped into Breitbart London’s Raheem Kassam in Brussels and he asked if I would go on a fact-finding mission to Europe’s centre of Jihad, I thought I’d give it a go. So we planned to take a lengthy walk around the area the following day with the leader of the Swedish Democrats Jimmie Akesson.
Before we set off, I decided to learn a little bit about the history of the suburb and find out why it has become so notorious for Islamism. Well you won’t be surprised to find the root of the problem is a hard-line socialist of the Jeremy Corbyn school of Left wing lunacy.
In 1992 Phillipe Moureaux – a prominent Brussels socialist – became the Mayor of Molenbeek. He remained in that post until 2012. During his twenty years in office, any questioning of the demographic change in Molenbeek was shut down as “racist”, and Moureaux pursued his policies of multiculturalism and “diversity” with gusto.
During Moureaux’s reign of madness the population of Molenbeek exploded. In the first five years of the century the population rose by 12 per cent and in the first fifteen years by a massive 30 per cent. Molenbeek’s population grew to around 100,000 with around 30 per cent of foreign nationality and another 40 per cent of foreign origins (people who now have Belgian passports).
This huge wave of immigration made it impossible for people to integrate properly, but any criticism was silenced. Of course, as a result, the new immigrants voted en masse for the Belgian Socialist Party, so Moureaux stayed in power. It’s not too dissimilar to the game played by the Labour Party in many cities and towns in the North of England.
However, Moureaux failed on every count: Molenbeek does not have many different cultures and it is certainly no longer diverse. There is one culture: an Islamic culture and no real diversity as almost everyone is either Arab or at least of Arab origin. Take out the obvious European architecture and we could have been walking around Tangiers or Tunis. However, that still does not answer why Molenbeek has become the hive of Islamic terrorism it is today. To address this point you must look at the failures of the Belgian state as a whole.
Up to 300 Belgians have left the country to travel to Iraq and Syria to fight for IS. This is the highest number of jihadists per capita in Europe. Of that number, it’s estimated that 75 have died and another 125 have returned to Belgium. The problem here is that Belgium’s security operations are tiny in comparison to their counterparts in the UK and France, so it is difficult to keep track on the returning Islamists. Belgium state security is estimated to employ a mere 600 people and its military counterpart roughly the same number. That means that Brussels, which houses the European Union’s institutions and NATO alongside Molenbeek, is woefully undermanned when it comes to security.
Moreover, there is also a severe lack of Belgian Imams, which means that they are imported into the mosques from abroad.
The Belgian security services have already raised concerns about the influence of Saudi-sponsored Wahhabism being practiced in the Brussels Grand Mosque, which undoubtedly filters down to Molenbeek’s many smaller places of worship.
The Belgian security services have stated that there are 800 people on their radar who are potential Islamists. This frightening figure included the mastermind of the Paris attack Abdelhamid Abaaoud, but nothing was done.
Finally, the day after our walk around Molenbeek the Belgian Prime Minister belatedly announced that the government will be spending extra cash on counter terrorism and that the security services will be given greater surveillance powers. This makes sense considering that Molenbeek has been linked to so many Islamist attacks, including the Madrid bombings, last year’s attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, and now Paris.
The Belgian government and Brussels authorities have also promised to ‘clean up’ Molenbeek, which is commendable, but the question that surely must be addressed is how it came to be a haven for home grown jihadists in the first place? And why did it take the Paris atrocity for the Belgians to stop turning a blind eye to the rampant Islamic extremism in this ghetto? I think we all know the answers and we know they will make uncomfortable reading for the Left.
Paul Nuttall is the Deputy Leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and tweets at @PaulNuttallUKIP