Muslim community members take part in yearly New Year’s Day clean-up in Flanders
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    Muslim community members take part in yearly New Year’s Day clean-up in Flanders

    Credit: © Belga

    Volunteer members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community took to the streets in a number of Flemish cities to take part in a traditional New Year’s Day clean-up operation.

    Armed with pliers, brooms and waste bags, a group of around twenty volunteers was spotted cleaning up fireworks and litter in Dilbeek, Antwerp.

    The action was mimicked in other localities in Flanders, with up to 75 volunteers working their way through roughly 10 kilometres in streets around the municipalities of Meer and Hoogstraten, in the north of the province of Antwerp.

    The group, which includes both adults and children, have been carrying out the symbolic action on New Year’s Day for more than ten years, hitting the streets just after a new year’s prayer, according to one of its members.

    “We have been organising the clean-up action on the first day of the new year in our country since 2008,” spokesperson Mohamed Azfar told Bruzz, adding: “Cleanliness and beauty are important elements of our faith (…), environmental cleanliness is also important, hence the clean-up action.”

    Town residents and authorities express gratitude for the group’s action with the mayor of Hoogstraten noting that many passers-by treated the volunteers with baked treats, and that he had also thanked them and offered them coffee and chocolate, HLN reports.

    In Dilbeek alone, the volunteers collected up to 20 bags with waste and litter from the night before, with Mayor Willy Segers thanking the volunteers for their initiative.

    Since its creation in British-ruled India in the late 1890s, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has branched out across the globe, and with up to 20 million followers.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times