Reading jihadist websites not punishable by law

The parliamentary commission of inquiry into the terrorist attacks in Brussels has decided not to criminalize consulting a jihadist website, unless it leads to "terrorist self-apprenticeship," De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad reported on Wednesday. Federal prosecutor Frédéric Van Leeuw had proposed, after the failed attack last June at the Brussels-Central station, that consultation of jihadist websites should be prohibited. Prime Minister Charles Michel seemed to support the proposal, but observers from the academic world felt that the measure would be ineffective.

The commission of inquiry, which resumed its work this week, looked into the matter. According to expert Paul Martens, former president of the Constitutional Court, the country would step on slippery ground with such a ban.

"Before criminalizing the recipients of such messages, we must fight against the dissemination of hatred and violence," he said in a note. "At the same time, we can equip ourselves with the technical means necessary to keep an eye on the recipients of these messages". The commission of inquiry decided to follow his advice.

The Brussels Times

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