Belgium's Malcolm X

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Fri Dec 6 10:16:38 MST 2002

>From Al-Ahram Weekly, 5 - 11 December 2002 Issue No. 615

Zero tolerance for Arab activists

Racism killed a Moroccan in Belgium, but the establishment wants someone
else's head. Amira Howeidy investigates the case of Belgium's Malcolm X

Two men of Arab origin are causing quite a stir in Belgium. One is Mohamed
Ashrak, a 27-year-old Islamic religion teacher of Moroccan origin, whose
fame was established when Constant Van Linden, a 66-year-old Belgian
pensioner, shot him dead on 26 November. The killing sparked two days of
violent riots and clashes between police and several hundred young
protesters, mostly of Moroccan origin, in northern Antwerp's Borgerhout

Although racism was the immediately apparent motive for the murder, Belgian
investigators are putting forward the convenient possibility of mental
disorder as a motivation. Nearly 160 protesters were arrested.

The second man is Lebanese-born Dyab Abou Jahjah, president of the Arab
European League (AEL), an organisation active in defending the civil rights
of Arabs in Europe. Abou Jahjah, 31, was arrested in connection with the
riots on 28 November following an impressive hunt during which several
police patrols assisted by a helicopter searched the streets of Antwerp to
locate his car, although he wasn't in hiding. Police also raided his
residence and seized documents found there. But this is how the Belgian
authorities decided to crackdown on the man now dubbed "de Belgische Malcolm
X"". Abou Jahjah was charged with criminal association, being an accomplice
to public disorder while showing arms, deliberately blocking traffic,
destroying vehicles and assaulting and wounding a police officer.


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