Yesterday the Belgian authorities decided to provide police protection for people working in the Brussels prisons of Vorst and Sint-Gillis. The decision was taken after two jailers, on their way to work, were attacked on a Brussels tram. Immigrant youths called them “assassins” and threatened them with knives. All the prison employees are now escorted by the police on their way to the car park or to the nearby train station.
According to the youths the jailers “murdered” Fayçal Chabaan, a 25-year old Moroccan criminal, who was an inmate in Vorst Prison. Chabaan died last Sunday after having been given a sedative. Sunday was the first day of the Islamic holy month of ramadan when Muslims are only allowed to eat after sunset. Moroccan youths claim Chabaan was holding his ramadan fast and had complained about the food of the evening meal. The situation in the Brussels prisons is tense, with many Muslim inmates blaming the prison authorities for Chabaan’s death.
Yesterday evening a dustbin was set alight by immigrant youths in the Brussels Marollen neighbourhood, but according to the police the situation was calm and no arrests were made. Representatives of Moroccan organisations met with Brussels politicians and complained about the lack of subsidies for youth projects.
Meanwhile in France, a philosophy teacher is under police protection after receiving death threats over an op-ed article [French text here] which he wrote in a national newspaper. In the article, which was published in the conservative daily Le Figaro of September 19th, Robert Redeker accused Islam of “exalting violence.” Mr Redeker has not attended classes at his school near Toulouse since the article was published. Pierre Rousselin, the editor in chief of Le Figaro, apologized on Al-jazeera for the publication of the article. A number of Islamic countries, including Egypt, banned Le Figaro following the publication of Redeker’s piece. Mr Rousselin said the publication of the op-ed was a mistake. He said the article did not express the paper’s opinion. The article is no longer available on the Figaro website.
“I am now in a catastrophic personal situation. Several death threats have been sent to me, and I have been sentenced to death by organizations of the al-Qaeda movement. [...] On the websites condemning me to death there is a map showing how to get to my house to kill me, they have my photo, the places where I work, the telephone numbers, and the death fatwa. [...] There is no safe place for me, I have to beg, two evenings here, two evenings there. [...] I am under the constant protection of the police. I must cancel all scheduled conferences. And the authorities urge me to keep moving. [...] All costs are at my own expense, including those of rents a month or two ahead, the costs of moving twice, legal expenses, etc.
It's quite sad. I exercised my constitutional rights, and I am punished for it, even in the territory of the Republic. This affair is also an attack against national sovereignty – foreign rules, decided by criminally minded fanatics, punish me for having exercised a constitutional right, and I am subjected, even in France, to great injury.”
More on the Brussels Ramadan Riots:
Brussels Returns to Normal, for Now, 28 September 2006
Third Night of Ramadan Rioting in Capital of Europe, 27 September 2006
Ramadan Rioting in Brussels, 26 September 2006