The Mosque is Belgium’s biggest. Officials say it’s a hotbed for extremism

Prime News, International (Brussels), November 11:- The Grand Mosque of Brussels is Belgium’s biggest and oldest site of Muslim worship. Officials in Belgium say it is also a hotbed for Saudi-backed Islamist extremism.
Now the Parliament wants the country’s leaders to take over the sprawling complex that is just steps from the gleaming core of the European Union. It is the latest attempt to tighten security after radicalized Belgians emerged at the heart of terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels in the last three years. 

The sudden move against the mosque underscores the challenge for Western European leaders seeking to embrace what they call a “European Islam” that endorses pluralistic values. For too long, many officials say, they have stood by as imams preaching the ultraconservative interpretation of Islam favored by clerics in Saudi Arabia and Qatar have worked among their populations, encouraging the frustrated descendants of North African immigrants to wall themselves off from mainstream society.
But the very same crackdown on the mosque puts Belgian policymakers in the unusual position of picking and choosing among strains of Islam in the name of protecting freedom of religion and democracy. The dilemma has grown more pressing after Europe was struck repeatedly by Islamic State-inspired terror, often perpetrated by disgruntled citizens born inside the countries they have targeted.

The mosque’s leaders “are trying to live in their splendid isolation with a radical point of view, and their aim is not to integrate into our society. And that is a big problem,” said Servais Verherstraeten, one of the leaders of a Belgian parliamentary commission that recommended last month that the government break the Saudi government’s 99-year rent-free lease on the mosque. The lease was handed to Saudi King Faisal in 1969 as a goodwill gesture by Belgian King Baudouin.

“We want in Belgium an Islam practiced by people who respect our constitution, who want to integrate into our country,” Verherstraeten said. “There is the perception that there is something to hide in the most important mosque in the country.” (MR, Inputs: Agencies).

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