Belgium's anti-discrimination centre is investigating several reports of hate speech addressed to participants of a mass prayer staged in Brussels in honour of a deceased Muslim preacher.
Unia said it was looking into at least seven complaints regarding messages posted online after thousands in Brussels joined in a public mass prayer on Monday.
The funeral event, organised on Monday in a Molenbeek mosque, was moved outside following a mass turn out to mourn Rachid Haddach, a well-known Muslim preacher, teacher and community leader.
On Twitter, far-right party Vlaams Belang posted images of the prayer, calling the event "hallucinating" and referring to Haddach as a "Salafist hate preacher."
Haddach, dead at 49, was an active preacher who often volunteered at schools and local mosques and earned a "big brother" reputation with many young Muslims in Brussels.
"He taught me to never reply to hate with more hate," Oussama Karan Ziani, one of the people who filed a complaint with Unia, told La Libre.
The preacher was also active as a vlogger on YouTube, where he had grown a following of over 60,000 subscribers, including from across the international Francophone Muslim community.
Haddach has been accused of belonging to the ultra-conservative Salafist movement, a claim which he denied and which was also rejected by a self-proclaimed Salafist leader, who called Haddach an "enemy" of the movement.
A spokesperson with Unia said that the complaints, on grounds of incitement to hatred, violence or discrimination, could see the offenders risk between one month and one-year imprisonment and a fine of up to €1,000.
The Brussels Times