Belgium Shaken By Ramadan Crime Wave: Threats of Grenade Attacks on Public Buildings
Threats, clashes and gatherings of "jeunes" are shaking day-to-day life in certain districts, especially those in Brussels The period of Ramadan is bringing its share of tensions and incidents in the streets of Brussels. It has only been six days since the month characterised by the Muslim fast has begun. However, the local police in Moelenbeek has already received threats in relation to this period - indirect, it is true - of attacks against public buildings. "These threats involved the possibility of grenades being launched at a police station in Moelenbeek or any other public building such as the town hall or community centre.”
Threats which were taken very seriously. Suddenly, at the end of last week and this weekend, the western police zone raised its state of alert and reinforced its security regime. "We were all on guard. Police numbers were reinforced on the ground as well as technical resources, like cameras, to observe any excesses."
At the time of writing, the regime has nonetheless been lifted, given that the threats have not been acted upon.
In Schaerbeek, the afternoons ends in a rather stormy manner in the Pavillon district between Liedts square and la Cage aux Ours, known as a gathering point for rival gangs. "Every Ramadan, it's the same” , says Ahmed, the manager of the sports shop whose window was struck by gunfire this Monday, around 5.30 pm. "Two stirred-up gangs of 'jeunes' openly fired at one another. Some of them fled into my street. My shop is just collateral damage..."
...Abdelkader was present on the scene on Sunday and confirms that there were indeed clashes. "Two men were driving on motorbike and one of them was firing in the air. Two police cars were there and not one moved...Are they waiting for someone to be wounded before acting?"
In the eyes of the "jeunes" who gather daily in the square, the police are responsible for stoking the tensions. "During Ramadan, we stay in the gange because the fast is very hard physically and so we stick together. But once there are more than five of us, the police do identity checks with an order to disperse. They play on the nerves of the "jeunes" with provocative phrases like My dog is hungry, says one young man. (...)