CAIRO – Belgium Muslims have denounced the heinous attacks on mosques in the Belgian town of Genk after they were desecrated with swastikas and abusive slogans.
“Despite the shocking nature of the crimes committed, the EMB enjoins Muslims not to respond to the provocation, unless by peaceful and legal means, in accordance with what Islam advocates,” Semsettin Ugurlu, the chairman of the Muslim Executive of Belgium (EMB), said in a statement cited by Saphir News.
Ugurlu has also strongly condemned the “heinous acts of racism, Islamophobia and vandalism.”
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The attack occurred reportedly on the night of Friday, November 22, when three mosques were desecrated with swastikas and abusive slogans.
A pig head was also left outside one mosque.
The attacks were widely condemned by Belgian officials, while police increased its patrols surrounding the mosques.
Mayor of Genk Wim Dries condemned the attacks as “unacceptable.”
“We won’t tolerate this. Nobody wants this kind of signs on a religious building” he was quoted as saying by NVO News.
Launching an investigation to try and find the culprits, two people in their twenties have been identified by the police through the testimony of neighbors and images of surveillance cameras placed near the vandalized mosque.
The suspects were arrested and placed in custody.
Meanwhile, Ugurlu urged “the leaders and the followers of mosques from Genk to open their doors to their non-Muslim fellow citizens in a spirit of peace and tolerance.”
“Openness and dialogue are the only pathways to live together,” he added.
The attack is not the first in Belgium to target mosques.
Last March, a Muslim imam died in an arson attack on a mosque in the Belgian capital Brussels.
Belgian Muslims are estimated at 450,000 – out of a 10-million-population – about half of them are from Moroccan origin, while 120,000 are from Turkish origin.
More than 20 percent of the population of Brussels is of Muslim origin coming from Morocco, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other African countries.
There are 77 mosques or prayer rooms in Brussels and over 300 across Belgium.
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