On a bustling shopping street, women in headscarves pick through traditional North African robes. A Muslim store nearby does brisk business selling prayer books and Korans, while a few blocks away a group of young men in South Asian kurtas play cricket outside a massive church.
Welcome to Molenbeek. A Brussels melting pot of more than half-a-dozen different nationalities. A struggling neighbourhood, where youth unemployment hits 50 percent. And, in recent years, the reputed ‘Jihadi capital’ of Europe.
If the region is to get a handle on extremism, Molenbeek – located a half-hour walk from the city’s fabled Grand Place – may be ground zero. It’s here where some jihadi fighters have returned from Syria, and where some extremists believed linked to the Brussels and Paris terrorist attacks grew up.