The Belgian capital has a problem with extremist Islam, Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur said in an interview with newspaper De Morgen published Wednesday, one year after the terror attacks at Zaventem Airport and Maalbeek metro station.
“Everyone knows that all mosques in Brussels are in the hands of Salafists,” Mayeur said, referring to the radical form of Islam. “We need to change this, we need new mosques that follow our democratic rules and that are being controlled by the government.”
However, Mayeur denied claims his city is the capital of jihad, an image that emerged after authorities revealed many of the terror suspects responsible for the Paris and Brussels terror attacks lived or operated from the city.
“Jihadism in Belgium started in Antwerp, then spread to Vilvoorde, Molenbeek and Brussels-north,” Mayeur said.
He added: “Terrorism is a problem that involves Europe as a whole. Don’t forget what happened in Paris, Nice and Berlin. If this was only a Brussels problem, it would have been solved.”
According to Mayeur, people should fear not only radicalized youth, but extremism in general. “We live in a world in which radicalism is growing. People such as Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen and Vladimir Putin are extremists too,” he said.
A confidential report into anti-terror measures revealed earlier this week that police in the Brussels district of Molenbeek have uncovered 51 organizations with suspected ties to terrorism after Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon pledged to “clean up” the Molenbeek district.
Mayeur said that his city still faces a shortage of police officers to cope with the burden of extra security measures for the EU capital, demonstrations and security of events and buildings.