Of course I have followed as you have probably too, the terrorist attacks in Paris. But today I got the impression that we in Brussels are getting more and more involved and especially one area, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean which is one of the nineteen municipalities located in the Brussels. It is one of the most densely populated municipalities in Belgium, with over 16,000 inhabitants per km2.
At the end of the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution and the building of the Brussels-Charleroi Canal brought prosperity to Molenbeek, through commerce and manufacturing. Attracted by the industrial opportunities, many workers moved in, first from other Belgian provinces and France, then from South European, and more recently from East European and African countries. The growth of the community continued unabated throughout the 19th century, leading to cramped living conditions, especially near the canal.
The town became known as “Little Manchester” and its inhabitants lived through an extended period of misery. The industrial decline, which had already started before World War I, accelerated after the Great Depression. In some areas of the town, the ensuing poverty left its mark on the urban landscape and scarred the social life of the community, leading to rising crime rates and pervading cultural intolerance. Various local revitalization programs are currently under way, aiming at relieving the most impoverished districts of the municipality.
Over the past couple of decades, a substantial Muslim community of mainly Moroccan and Turkish ancestry has established itself in Molenbeek, very visible (people, shops, cafés) in the oldest neighbourhoods of the commune, near the canal. There are several mosques in the commune, including a Pakistani one, and a Shi'a Turkish mosque.
Switching on the Television at noon, I was really glad to live outside Brussels what I saw was terrifying. It lasted nearly the whole morning. Police had invaded Molenbeek to look for the still missing Paris terrorists as there are several sources indicating that they came from Molenbeek.
Molenbeek in normal times
with its very nice weekly market
Molenbeek has some very nice areas and beautiful old houses. Nobody could suspect that there was a breeding nest of terrorists in this municipality.
And that's what I saw, and it happened only a few kms far from my home
Very unusual scenes in Brussels
Journalists from all over the world were there and also interviewed the population. They are all shocked. They just can't believe that these inconspicuous men had committed such terrible crimes.
Quite impressive for the locals
Teachers tried to explain to the kids what happened, which was not an easy task.
It must be terrible for Molenbeek's honest population what's happening in their municipality !
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