Jean-Louis Denis, a convert to Islam who served five years in prison for preaching armed jihad and attempting to recruit young men to go and fight in Syria, has been banned from Molenbeek by the commune’s mayor, Catherine Moureaux.
Denis, who affects the look of a Biblical prophet and also goes by the name Jean-Louis the Oppressed, served the entirety of a five year sentence for hate speech, and was released a year ago this month. He lives with his mother in Londerzeel north of Brussels, but makes regular visits to Molenbeek, where he has been booked by police twice.
“He has nothing to come here for,” said Moureaux, confirming the banning order. “This gentleman carries on endorsing hate-filled messages that we have to protect our young people against. Because of his past record as a troublemaker in our commune, I have taken my decision in order to avoid problems of public order.”
Denis has two choices if he intends to fight the order: he can contest the decision at a meeting of the municipal council on 19 December, or he can bring the case to the Council of State, which scrutinises the actions of all levels of government.
Last month, Vilvoorde mayor Hans Bonte let it be known Denis was not welcome to take Dutch lessons in his city. The Flemish employment agency VDAB had sent Denis to the town for language lessons to help him find a job. However the language school, Bonte said, “is situated close to the school where in the past Denis recruited a number of youngsters for the fighting in Syria, where several were killed. That led to a great deal of unrest and shocked reaction among the Vilvoorde families concerned and those around them.”
Bonte was critical of the VDAB, and pointed out that according to the school, Denis showed no interest in classes. And he called on the government to make short work of introducing a law which would apply conditions to offenders like Denis, even if they were not being released early. “And if the present government cannot do it, let parliament take the initiative,” he said.