Antwerp mosques file complaint against far-right Vlaams Belang for inciting hatred

Antwerp mosques file complaint against far-right Vlaams Belang for inciting hatred
Credit: Belga

Two mosques in Antwerp are filing a complaint against the far-right Vlaams Belang political party and its chairman Tom Van Grieken for spreading images on social media which they feel incite hatred and discrimination.

The Al Aqsa Mosque and the adjacent Cultural Centre Mosque Omar in the northern district of Antwerp are filing a complaint, after Vlaams Belang and Van Grieken circulated images of Muslims on the day of the Feast of Sacrifice.

In his tweet, Van Grieken said that "this is the real reason why the entire Antwerp province is being punished" with stricter coronavirus measures.

Due to the tightening of coronavirus measures, the Feast on 31 July was forced to take place in people's own social bubble, and most mosques in Belgium closed their doors.

Only a few decided, in accordance with the measures, to admit a limited number of believers for the sacrificial prayer, including the Al Aqsa Mosque in Antwerp North.

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"As there were security measures in place at the entrance and in the mosque itself, such as disinfecting the hands, it became increasingly crowded in the street," a spokesperson for the mosque told De Morgen.

"The police came to the scene to make sure everyone kept enough distance. No infringements of the security measures were detected," they added.

On 31 July, however, Van Grieken and Vlaams Belang posted a video that was made before the arrival of the police, and on which shouting Muslims can be seen.

"Unbelievable! Today at the mosques in Antwerp North. This is the real reason why the whole province of Antwerp is being punished," Van Grieken wrote.

According to the mosques, the images and accompanying message incite hatred and discrimination.

"A snapshot of hustle and bustle in the streets does not in any way reflect the way in which measures were taken inside the mosque, and certainly not in the mosques that closed their doors," they said.

"Our intention with this report is to indicate that this post on social media has the clear intention to label Muslims and mosques as the cause of the rise in coronavirus figures and to portray the community as a scapegoat," the mosques added.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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