Belgium Says Number of Extremist Imams Doubled… State Security Watches Them
The number of imams suspected of having a hardline ideology in Belgium and have been under Belgian State Security Service control had amounted to 72 in 2018.
The figure has doubled over the past two years compared to 2016 when it was 37. Back then terrorists carried out attacks in Belgium, targeting an airport and a train station in which 32 were killed and another 32 were injured.
These figures were presented by Justice Minister Koen Geens in a written response to a parliamentary interpellation by a member of the right-wing Vlaams Belang Party Barbara Pas.
“I can’t understand the government's failure to take firm steps against these imams, who should have been considered unwanted and deported outside Belgium,” said Pas, in response to these figures.
“They pose a significant threat through their extremist religious rhetoric and discourse and a major source spreading hardline Islam in Belgium.”
“The Belgian government must take firm actions in order to end this threat,” she stressed.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Head of Belgium’s Conference of Imams Sheikh Mohamed Toujgani expressed regret over the situation of imams, mosques and the Muslim minority in Europe due to growing hatred.
“We hear a great deal about the training of imams although there are currently competent imams in various fields,” said Toujgani when asked whether training imams is a priority over solving their problems and sufferings due to being classified as extremists.
Toujgani explained that training imams is a necessity as they should always be keen to develop themselves and cooperate with others.