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.
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.
France is not the only country where headscarves have proved contentious. A number of countries already ban the garment from schools and other public buildings, while elsewhere it is the failure of women to don a veil which prompts outrage.
Singapore, keen to avoid racial and religious tensions between its ethnic Chinese majority and the Malay Muslim minority, has banned the scarf from schools. The Singapore government believes the ban is necessary to promote racial harmony, but Muslims say it infringes upon their religious freedoms.
The issue has come to a head in recent months after Germany’s supreme court ruled that a school was wrong to exclude a Muslim teacher because she wore a headscarf. The judges declared that current legislation did not allow for such a decision, but added that individual states would be within their rights to make legal provisions to this effect.
France The French parliament is widely expected to approve legislation banning overt religious symbols – including headscarves – from schools. President Jacques Chirac believes such a ban is necessary to preserve the secularity of the French state.
Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority recently warned of “”grave consequences”” if women continued to appear unveiled.
For the past 80 years Turks have lived in a secular state founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who rejected headscarves as backward looking in his campaign to secularise Turkish society. Scarves are consequently banned in civic spaces in the country.
Two politicians, inspired by developments in neighbouring France, are hoping to push legislation through parliament that would ban the headscarf from state schools.
Muslim women last year won the right to wear the headscarf for identification photos, which was banned in Russia in 1997.
A Muslim woman last year lost a high-profile court case against a large supermarket chain in Denmark after she had been fired for wearing a headscarf at work in 2001. The court ruled that her contract contained a dress code banning headgear.”