Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Best Place for a Terrorist to Hide

David Damen, Brussels

Following the horrific airport bombings in Brussels, the media spotlight is once again on Belgium’s Arab ghettos, where terrorist ideology is said to proliferate. Yet in candid conversations with the locals of Brussels’ Molenbeek district — known as the terror hotbed of Europe — they tell us they’ve been condemned unfairly. Are they unwitting hosts to deadly terror cells, or are they just avoiding an uncomfortable truth?

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

“Why, for goodness sakes, do we have to meet with these people?” My neighbor Hassan is on a rant, wishing he were anywhere but alongside me in my car as we make the half-hour drive from our home in Antwerp to Brussels. Agitated and defensive, he instinctively pulls out a cigarette from the box in the pocket of his coat, even though he’d promised he wouldn’t smoke in the car. Since the Brussels terror attacks two weeks ago, Hassan has been very quiet, morose. Perhaps it’s his Moroccan background that’s plaguing him. The Abdeslam family, who blew themselves up in Paris, and their brother Salah who was recently captured, are Moroccans. The El Bakraoui brothers who detonated the explosions in Brussels are Moroccans. Hassan himself was born in Belgium. But he’s feeling the silent accusations in the media and the street; too many Moroccans have morphed into brutal terrorists these days. I’ve known Hassan the contractor for many years. We’ve worked on projects together and have had dozens of conversations about ISIS and Islam and the destruction they’re bringing upon the world. We don’t always agree, but this time, both of us stood on the same side of a bright red line. “They’re destroying our lives. They’re humiliating us,” he lamented to me on the phone last Sunday. “When the explosions happened, my brother and I were at work and we heard it on the radio. I looked into his eyes and together we looked down. We put our heads into our hands and sighed, ‘Oh, no, it’s happening to us again.’ ” “Hassan, what are you doing now?” I asked him. “Watering the flowers in the garden.” “Maybe we go to Brussels and see what’s happening with your fellow Muslims there,” I suggested. “Okay, why not?” he replied. Before he could change his mind and lose his resolve, Hassan, the photographer, and I were in my car driving down the E19 to the capital.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"