The photo shoot in the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek is playful: Painter Samuel Vanderveken is wearing a grey wool sweater and jeans. His friend Nikita Imambayev stands to his right wearing a traditional chapan — an overcoat worn by Muslims in Central Asia. Both men have dark hair and beards, and generally look rather similar. They pose, standing side by side, with their arms crossed. Then they change roles. Somewhat hesitantly, but nevertheless with a big smile, Vanderveken puts on the chapan and suddenly becomes a Muslim. The transformation seems perfect.
A knife-wielding man threatening to kill passengers caused panic on a train in the Belgian capital, Brussels earlier this week, local media reported on Friday, citing officials.
The man shouted “Allahu Akbar” (‘God is great’ in Arabic) and “we’re going to kill all of you,” causing panic among the passengers, Belgian media reports.
He was also reportedly screaming that he wanted to “finish the work started by the Nazis.”
The imam’s residence permit was withdrawn as a prelude to expelling him. He had lodged an appeal against that decision which, if it failed, would oblige him to leave the country, Minister Theo Francken told radio station BelRTL.
Brussels’ Grand Mosque, which was leased to Saudi Arabia for 99 years in the 1960s as part of an energy deal, has faced repeated accusations from local politicians of propagating ultra-conservative forms of Islam.
“There is a problem with the Grand Mosque… I have taken the decision to withdraw the residence permit of the imam of that mosque,” Francken said.
A Danish Muslim woman has been deported to Tunisia for refusing to remove her religious veil while going through security at Brussels Airport, Belgium’s State Secretary for Asylum and Migration has said.
The woman landed at Brussels Zaventem Airport on Wednesday on a flight from Tunis, Tunisia.
Belgian prosecutors have opened more than 20 new probes against people suspected of terrorism-related offenses on average every month since the start of the year, with the total number reaching 189 to date, local media report.
The figure is already nearing the mark for similar cases opened throughout 2014, when the total number was 195. The average number of monthly cases opened also exceeds last year’s figure, which amounted to 22, the Belgian newspapers De Tijd and L’Echo report.
Witnesses claimed they heard gunshots while others reported a man had confronted soldiers in the Belgian capital.
Judges said the nationwide prohibition, which came into effect in 2011, did not violate the rights to private and family life and freedom of religion, or discrimination laws.
The European Court of Human Rights has upheld a Belgian ban on wearing the full-face niqab veil in public.
The court ruled that the restriction sought to guarantee social cohesion, the “protection of the rights and freedoms of others” and that it was “necessary in a democratic society”, a statement said.
Belgian banned the wearing of the full-face veil under a June 2011 law. It prohibits appearing in public “with a face masked or hidden, in whole or in part, in such a way as to be unidentifiable”.
Belgian prosecutors said Thursday they were looking for further suspects in an emerging terror investigation and feared a possible fresh attack as the country remained on high security alert.
An attacker who detonated a nail bomb he was carrying in a suitcase at Brussels Central Station has been identified as a 36-year-old Moroccan national from the jihadi ghetto of Molenbeek.
Known only as Oussama Z, officials have said he was not on their radar for links to terrorism, though some local media said he was well-known for being as serial sex offender and others said he was embroiled in drug crime.
He is the latest in the long line of extremist to have come from the Brussels municipality of Molenbeek, branded as the ‘jihadist capital of Europe’ which harboured Salah Adbeslam, who is in prison for the Paris attacks in 2015.
Attempted suicide bomber Oussama Z entered the station at 8.39pm and twice approached a group of 10 passengers and on the second time stood in the middle of them, screamed, and tried to blow himself up.
Remy Bonnaffe was listening to music on his headphones and checking his phone as he waited for his train home to Ghent after a day at the office in Brussels. “A normal day.”
Then, over the music, something more sinister: “All of a sudden I heard a bang, looked over and saw this thing burning.
“And at first I thought, maybe it’s just a regular explosion, an electronic device or whatever,” he said. “But when I heard the second explosion I started to get in instinct mode.”
A suspected suicide bomber who allegedly shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and triggered an explosive vest at Brussels Central Station has been gunned down and killed by soldiers.
Shots rang out soon after 9pm as police and soldiers moved in ‘to neutralise a suspect who was threatening civilians,’ said an investigating source.
NMBS, the National Railway Company of Belgium, said on Twitter the station was “indeed evacuated,” adding there was “no exact information about what is happening at the moment.”
Suspect shot after Brussels station explosion, no other injuries reported
Belgium’s most notorious terror recruiter has been allowed to marry the mother of his three children from behind bars.
Fouad Belkacem, 35, wed the woman in Hasselt prison several weeks ago in a move that activists and politicians fear could stop him being deported back to Morocco.
Under the alias of Abu Imran, Belkacem ran the Islamist website Sharia4Belgium which aimed to turn the European nation into an Islamic state.
Belgian prosecutors say a suspect in the attacks in Paris in 2015 has been charged with being a leader of the extremist cell that killed 130 people.
The 30-year-old Belgian national, Yassine Atar, has been charged with “terrorist assassinations” and of being “a leader in the activities of a terrorist group.”
A police officer with a Templar cross on his bulletproof vest has found himself in hot water in Belgium. Authorities say the symbol may be linked to extreme right-wing groups, while many on social media support ‘Kevin the Crusader.’
The dispute in Couvin, Belgium, a town of 13,000 people, started on Thursday when local media made several reports about a police officer wearing a Templar cross on his bulletproof vest. The media immediately linked the cross to extremist groups who sometimes use it as a symbol of their fight against Muslims.