The Belgian interior minister Jan Jambon on Saturday courted controversy after he stated that “a significant” number of Muslims, who are Belgian citizens, celebrated the Brussels attacks that left over 32 people dead and over 300 injured last month. Jambon came down heavily on Belgium’s state policy and said that the country had failed to integrate Muslims into its society. While Jambon did not explicitly state that he was talking about the Brussels attacks, it was evident that he was talking about last month’s attacks. Jambon’s statement came during an interview with Flemish language newspaper De Standaard, Yahoo News reports citing AFP.
“A significant section of the Muslim community danced when attacks took place,” Jambon told the newspaper.
Jambon has also in the interview openly accused Muslim residents of Brussels of attacking police officers when the police launched an operation last month to arrest a suspect from the Paris attacks that took place in November last year. The officials were allegedly attacked by Muslim residents of the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels which is known as a Muslim-dominated neighborhood. Jambon claimed,
“They threw stones and bottles at police and press during the arrest of Salah Abdeslam. This is the real problem. Terrorists we can pick up, remove from society. But they are just a boil. Underneath is a cancer that is much more difficult to treat. We can do it, but it won’t be overnight.”
Jambon further added that Belgium has “for many years ignored the warning signs” that emanated from the Muslim community in the country. He said that radicalization within a large number of the Muslim youth from third- and fourth-generation Muslim families in Belgium is “too deeply rooted.”
Jambon is a member of the New Flemish Alliance party that holds a key to Belgium’s current ruling center-right coalition government that came to power in 2014. Jambon had offered his resignation following the March 22 attacks.
This is not the first time Jan Jambon has made controversial statements like the latest one. Back in November, just days after the Paris terrorist attacks. Jambon said that he “planned to clean Molenbeek” after it emerged that several of the Paris attackers had connections to the impoverished Muslim-dominated area of Brussels.
The Brussels terror attacks of 2016 were a series of coordinated nail bombings that took place at multiple locations on the morning of March 22, earlier this year. Two bombs went off at the Brussels Airport located in Zaventem while another one exploded at the Maalbeek metro station in the city. The explosions resulted in panic and a long shutdown of the Brussels airport which only recently began to resume normal operations. The attacks left 32 people dead. While investigations into the attacks are still underway, it was evident that the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers. An extra bomb which remained unexploded was also recovered from the airport later. The responsibility for the Brussels attacks was taken by the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The Brussels attacks are the deadliest act of terrorism to have taken place in Belgium in the country’s history. After the attacks, the government declared three days of national mourning.
Meanwhile, investigations have led authorities to believe that the perpetrators of the Brussels attacks belong to the same terrorist cell that carried out the Paris terror attack that took place in November. Investigators have identified two brothers, Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui, who were seen in the security camera footage of the airport. Both of them died during the attacks.
Do you think Jan Jambon is right in blaming the Muslim community in Belgium for “celebrating” the Brussels terror attacks?
(AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)