Belgian police raided 20 houses in Antwerp, Brussels and Tongres and arrested a number of men suspected of links with Islamic extremist terror groups, the federal prosecutor’s office has confirmed. The men are all suspected of having links with an organisation called the Moroccan Islamic Combatants’ Group (MICG) In a statement, the prosecutor’s office said there was “serious evidence” that north Africans linked to the MICG had received paramilitary training in camps in Afghanistan and were now living in Belgium, several of them with no official residence papers.
Nizar Trabelsi, Amor Sliti, Tarek Maaroufi and six other radical Islamists sentenced in September 2003 by the court in Brussels for preparing the attack on the American base in Kleine-Brogel (in the region of Limbourg, Belgium) and of being involved in the murder of an Afghan opposition leader in 2001, went on appeal.
Jean-Fran_ois Bastin, (alias Abdullah Abu Abdulaziz) the founder of the “Parti Citoyennet_ et Prosp_rit_” which received in the elections in May 2003 more than 8000 votes, resigned from its current position of the Party leader. The official reason of his resignation is ‘the doctrinal reorientation of the Party’. His name will not appear on the election lists in the coming regional elections in June. Sheikh Bastin claims that his departure from the Party has nothing to do with the accusation of his son Muhammed el Amin Bastin of involvement in the terrorist attacks in Turkey in November 2003. The new leader of the PCP becomes imam Bassam Ayachi, who is the administrator of the website assabyle.com.
Foreigners living in Belgium have been given the right to vote in the country’s local elections, whatever their nationality. The Belgian Parliament’s approval of the new voting law, marks the end of a long and often bitter debate that once again saw the country divided along linguistic lines. The country’s French speaking political parties carried the vote. Only one party from Dutch-speaking Flanders – the minority Flemish Socialist Party (SP.A) – voted in favour of the planned new rules. It is estimated that around 120 000 people are to contribute from the new regulations.
The presence of more than 200 000 people of Moroccan origin in today’s Belgium is to a large extent a consequence of inflow of workers after the bilateral agreement was signed between the two countries 40 years ago. The EMIM (‘l’Espace M_morial de l’Immmigration Marocaine) was found in order to celebrate the 40 years of Moroccan presence in Belgium. It organizes and co-ordinates a two and a half month programme of various seminars, concerts, debates which take place in different parts of the country.