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Muslims in Belgium ask for extra security in wake of New Zealand attack

16:38 15/03/2019

Belgium’s Muslim Executive has asked authorities to provide security in the wake of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, today. The organisation represents the interests of mosques and Muslims in the country.

At about midnight Belgian time four armed assailants entered two mosques in the city, located on New Zealand’s South Island. It was noon in Christchurch and the mosques were full of people taking part in Friday Prayer.

Two men and one woman opened fire, killing 41 in one mosque and nine in another. The Muslim Executive is calling on its members to avoid going to mosques, to remain calm and to pray for the victims in New Zealand.

“All mosques and other places of worship are definitely in need of extra protection,” Muslim Executive chair Mehmet Üstün told Bruzz. “We have always been in full support of governmental measures to fight all forms of radicalism, racism and Islamophobia. Recently, we have heard a lot of racism and extremist talk.”

While security measures are being taken in France, the Netherlands and the UK, Belgium does not have plans to do so at the moment, according to the federal Crisis Centre. “The Crisis Centre is, together with our partners, monitoring the situation,” said the centre’s chair, Yves Stevens. “This is a decision taken at the federal level; local police can of course decide if they want to take an extra measures for certain mosques.”

In the meantime, Brussels-City mayor Philippe Close announced that a condolence book has been placed in City Hall where citizens can write messages for the victims in Christchurch.

Photo: Brussels’ Great Mosque
©Eric Lalmand/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw