Macron impressed by Molenbeek

Wednesday, 21 November 2018 10:01
Macron with some members of the La Vallée collective Macron with some members of the La Vallée collective © Molengeek
French president Emmanuel Macron left yesterday after a two-day official visit to Belgium, the first by a French head of state in 47 years. And the major impression he took away with him was the spirit of the young people of Molenbeek.
Molenbeek, the much-maligned municipality of Brussels bordering the canal and city centre, hit world headlines in 2015-2016, when it because clear that terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels had both been organised and coordinated from the commune, which was described in the press as the European capital of jihad.

Macron, accompanied on the trip by his wife Brigitte, visited the commune with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, and called at the shared workplace Smart/La Vallée, which houses initiatives such as MolenGeek, concentrating on tech, and Art2Work, which seeks to find jobs for young people of an artistic bent. The king has already visited the site and thought it worthy of a visit by the president.

The king, on the advice of the government, agreed expressly that the French visit was intended to help change international minds about the character of Molenbeek. The commune has a population of just over 97,000, with the largest portion living in the area close to the canal. One in four of the population is under 18, and unemployment stands at around 30,000.

Macron declared himself impressed by the various initiatives offered to young people by La Vallée, and the contribution it makes to the image of the area. “It is not because you’re born in a certain part of a country that you have no right to your own projects,” he said. “It is fantastic how access to your own projects is being generated here.”

“The way the presidential couple conducted themselves was very special,” Sofie Foets, founder of education and training non-profit TADA, told Bruzz. “They were very approachable and open. They really gave us a lot of encouragement.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times
Google Plus

More Stories

Entrepreneurs lay more than €300 million on table for medical research

Entrepreneurs lay more than €300 million on table for medical research

Urbain Vandeurzen, one of Belgium’s leading business entrepreneurs, has committed to spending €200 million through one of his companies to pay for research into Alzheimer’s disease.

March against Marrakesh can go ahead, says Council of State

March against Marrakesh can go ahead, says Council of State

The so-called March against Marrakesh, planned to take place in Brussels on Sunday, can go ahead despite a ban by the Brussels region, the Council of State has ruled.

Michel wants EU sanctions against people behind disinformation campaigns

Michel wants EU sanctions against people behind disinformation campaigns

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Friday on the margins of a summit in Brussels that he would like the European Commission to be able to conduct investigations and possibly take action against people who carry out disinformation campaigns to try and “destabilise democracies”.