Security in Antwerp tightened following Arras stabbing

Security in Antwerp tightened following Arras stabbing
The Grote Markt in Antwerp. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

After the knife attack in a high school in Arras in the north of France, leaving one dead and three injured, the mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever, has requested the support of the federal government to reinforce local security.

On Friday, France went into a state of emergency following a knife attack at a school in Arras, which left one teacher dead and three injured. The French government evoked fears that the Israel-Hamas conflict was spilling over into parts of Europe.

Belgium’s official terror threat level has not yet been raised, but the Antwerp mayor stated that local police were on heightened alert. Security around Antwerp’s famous Jewish Quarter has notably been tightened due to fears over potential hate crimes.

“I have just sent an email to Annelies Verlinden [Minister of the Interior] to ask for federal support. This is possible in various ways and I will discuss them with her. We believe that we will be facing this situation for a long time to come,” De Wever told VRT.

The right-wing Antwerp mayor also pledged his support for Israel, denouncing Hamas but stating that his solidarity was not a choice made against the Palestinian people.

“This is the most serious terrorist act since September 11, the worst massacre against Jews since the Holocaust. We know well what this community has endured, and that we are close to this community in our city. In such moments, we must dare to speak clearly,” he said.

On Tuesday, the city of Antwerp raised the Israeli flag on the Steen, in tribute to the victims of the Hamas attack in Israel. De Wever also advocated for cracking down on terrorist violence.

In the interview, De Wever also confirmed that he is set to talk to a delegation of Antwerp residents of Palestinian origin. According to the mayor, this is in order to the community that Antwerp’s “opposition to Hamas and terrorism is not against them.”

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