The two suspects in court for the Sharia4Belgium trial spoke at the Court of Appeal in Antwerp on Wednesday. Fouad Belkacem said that “everyone must take responsibility for their own actions. Labelling me as the bad guy is too easy. I have never considered acting as an agent to send fighters to Syria,” he added.
He says his goal was to give a voice to Muslims by following the example of the British group, ISLAM4UK. “We were inspired by this type of movement which seemed to work well in the UK. (…) Our acts of provocation were meant to raise awareness of certain problems ingrained in our society. Looking back, this was probably naive,” pointed out the founder of Sharia4Belgium.
He denies trying to radicalise youths or encouraging them to turn to armed jihad. “I am shocked that these youths are spoken of as if they were sheep, easily led. Some were very intelligent and they made their own choices. When the first ones left, I had been in prison for 3 months! How can I be held responsible?” he argued.
“Had I known in advance that things would go this far, I would never have behaved the way I did,” added the suspect, who has been in preventive custody for the past 3 and a half years. His 4th child is due to be born any day. The court reserved judgment. It is hoping to give a ruling on December 16th.