Molenbeek forbids arrival of Danish 'Koran burning' politician

Molenbeek forbids arrival of Danish 'Koran burning' politician
Rasmus Paludan. Credit: Belga

The Brussels municipality of Molenbeek forbids the arrival of the Danish anti-Islam politician Rasmus Paludan, who had announced he would come to the commune for a Koran-burning protest.

In August, a public burning of the Koran in an immigration neighbourhood in Malmö, Sweden, sparked violent protests in the city. The European Commission condemned the incident. A request by the Danish politician to demonstrate outside a mosque in the city was denied and a two-year travel ban to enter Sweden was issued against him.

Paludan (38) is the founder of the far-right party Stram Kurs ('Hard Line') in Denmark. In 2019, the party narrowly missed the electoral threshold, and the court convicted Paludan of racism.

After Samuel Paty, the teacher who showed Mohammed cartoons in class, was murdered in a suburb of Paris, and the terrorist attack that took place in Nice, Paludan announced on Facebook that he would be going to Paris on 11 November for a Koran burning. "Out of compassion for the French," he said.

Following the suspension of a teacher in Molenbeek who had shown cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, Paludan announced that he would also hold a Koran-burning in the Brussels commune, the day after the one in France. He wrote to Denmark's Belgian ambassador to announce his intentions, and to ask for permission.

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However, Mayor of Molenbeek Catherine Moureaux banned his presence on the territory, and the Immigration Department has also issued an entry ban against the man.

"However, if Paludan shows up, we will escort him out of Molenbeek right away," police spokesperson Caroline Vervaet told Bruzz. "We are ready and prepared to guarantee the safety of everyone on our territory."

However, the French authorities arrested Paludan on Wednesday when he left his hotel before he could reach the Champs-Elysées, where his protest was set to take place, reports De Standaard.

Paludan was banned from French territory and was to be expelled that same evening. However, he told Danish media that he was determined to continue his action in Molenbeek.

On Thursday, Belgium's Coordination Body for Threat Analysis (OCAM) confirmed that the Brussels police had arrested five of Paludan's supporters, reports De Morgen.

Federal Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi announced on Twitter that he had given the five supporters the order to leave Belgium's territory. "Hate preachers are not welcome here. From every possible ideology."

Whether Paludan has already left France or is still being held is unclear. He was planning to come to Molenbeek from Paris, and then travel on to Berlin. In October, Germany already expelled him once.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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