Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
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Friday, November 29, 2002
 
Lawsuit

The 'Centre for Equal Opportunities and Against Racism', a government body set up to fight racism, has announced it wants to be plaintiff in the case against the old man who shot the Morrocan immigrant, claiming it was a racist murder. Meanwhile, police still haven't announced they have discovered the motive for the murder.
In my opinion, the centre's announcement is premature at best, and dangerous at worst: politicians and community leaders are still trying to calm things down, and are downplaying the racism angle... Inciting more unrest by calling this a racist crime is not the smartest thing to do now.

 
Funeral: all quiet

As far as I hear in the media, all is quiet at the funeral of the murdered Morrocan in Antwerp. Over 3000 people are in attendance, reports Gazet van Antwerpen (link in Dutch), Antwerps biggest newspaper.
Meanwhile, it looks like Dyab Abu Jahja will remain in the cell until tuesday, when a judge will have to decide about keeping him imprisoned any longer. The evidence they have on him, and the accusations look rather flimsy though. But maybe later there will be more news on that...

 
More coverage

Found this report on Middle East Online. Funny, but I didn't know Belgium was part of the Middle East yet. It also contains some other factual mistakes: the Morrocan immigrant (27) was shot, not beaten to death by the 66-year old man.
The article also constantly refers to the European Arab League, while over here it is known as the Arab European League. It also gives the impression that the extreme-right Vlaams Blok party is in power in Antwerp, which is not true. A rainbow coalition comprising every party from hard-right to extreme-left makes up the city council, in fact.

 
Now even the BBC has noticed

After three tense days in Antwerp, the BBC has noticed that something has been going on on the other side of the Channel: BBC NEWS | Europe | Belgium arrests Arab leader after riots...

 
Religion of Peace or not?

Food for thought over at kuro5hin.org: descriptive vs. prescriptive perception of Islam (ie. the old 'the terrorists aren't real muslims' debate). The article makes some very interesting comparisons between linguistics and the Islam debate. Is a religion what it's holy book says it is, or what the people who claim to belong to it is?
Just one tiny criticism: Christianity isn't mentioned, though the conclusion can be equally applied there.

Thursday, November 28, 2002
 
Pictures of today

Some amazing pictures of today's terror attacks in Kenya and Israel.
(via: Little Green Footballs)

 
More on the Jahjah arrest

The second man of the AEL has urged supporters not to take to the streets after the arrest. Right now, police are present in the part of town where riots took place in the past days, but everything is calm. Trouble is expected tomorrow, though, when the burrial of the murdered Morrocan immigrant is to take place.
Jahjah has been accused of 'inciting disobedience and inciting violent resistance' by the police, and is likely to remain in jail until monday.
Guy Verhofstad, Belgian P.M. claims the AEL is trying to create 'police-free' zones under political pretexts so criminal activity can take place unhindered. Left and right wing politicians all condemn the AEL.

 
Leader of AEL arrested

Okay, so this isn't the most reliable of sources, but IndyMedia Belgium (Dutch language link) is reporting that Abu Jahjah, the leader of the Arab European League, has been arrested, and his home searched.
UPDATE: Confirmed by state radio. He will appear before a judge on friday (after the funeral of the murdered man), say justice officials. The radio also claimed searches in progress at other locaions.

 
All of a sudden...

As I was driving home today, on the radio (but earlier today on some Belgian news sites as well): a new immigrant organisation has been started in Belgium to defend the rights of the Berber community. About 80% of Morrocan immigrants in Belgium are Berbers, who are not actually Arabs and come from the poorer parts of Morroco. But, the Berbers claim, almost all political representation in the name of the Morrocan immigrants is done by Arabs. And they don't like it one bit. Asked if this had anything to do with the AEL, the founder of the new organisation said they were one of the main reasons. And he said he wanted people to know that most muslims in the world were not Arab, and that they were sick and tired of Islam being mixed with Arab nationalism.
Maybe there is hope after all...

 
Antwerp news, continued...

According to Belgian media and this Reuters piece, national politicians are getting involved in the events. Guy Verhofstad, Belgium's P.M., claims that, if neccessary, the AEL will be banned. Advisers close to the P.M. are investigating the legality of the AEL's 'video-patrols': people with cameras patrolling the street to film 'police racism'.
Meanwhile, still no news on the motives of the killer. AEL still claims it was racism, and that the man was a Vlaams Blok (extreme-right party which got 33% of the vote in Antwerp) supporter. Leona Deti├Ęge, the mayor, holds the AEL responsible for the riots. Also, many immigrant organisations are turning away from the AEL.
Funny situation: never before in Antwerp have the ruling rainbow coalition, the Vlaams Blok and the immigrant organisations had a common 'enemy'. Of course, if you ask them, they will strongly deny having anything in common with each other. But it's funny nonetheless.

 
More Antwerp news

According to Reuters, the Antwerp police still holds 20 youths in connection with the riots of last night. The police still claims they haven't found any racist motive for the murder, but the AEL (Arab European League) claims otherwise. The mayor of Antwerp meanwhile has accused the AEL of fueling the riots, and now the AEL has decided to sue the mayor for defamation... the story continues!

 
Tramlines resume service in Antwerp

I just read in Gazet van Antwerpen (Belgian newspaper, link in Dutch), that tramline services have resumed in the part of the city where the riots took place, but with extra people aboard to check tickets and watch out for trouble. Funny, but it was never reported that the service had been interrupted.
Anyway, good thing about the ticket controls: it is widely known in Antwerp that a lot of these youths ride the tram 'for free'. I just hope the ticket inspectors don't get beat up, because asking for a ticket surely is a 'provocation'.
UPDATE: An article in a different newspaper (De Standaard) reports that stones were thrown at the trams yesterday, and that the tram drivers went on strike. Trams driving through certain neighbourhoods are an obvious provocation, naturally...

 
Al-qaeda strikes again?

Certainly looks like it: Israelis targeted in Kenya attacks. Let's see: multiple attacks at the same time, check. Kenya as an established base of operations, check. Threatening Osama tape delivered to press in the weeks before, check. Second attack failed... check!
Looks like classic Al-qaeda to me...

 
After the Iranians, now the Guardian

Arab murder sparks two days of riots in Antwerp. Quote from the article:Hundreds of angry young men took to the streets of Antwerp on Tuesday night, smashing windows, wrecking cars and stoning police, who arrested two young Arabs after they drove a car at police officers."
Would that be the famous 'Arab Street' rising up? Only, this time it's in my old home town.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002
 
Islamic riots in Antwerp, Belgium

A 66-year old Belgian man fatally shot a Morrocan immigrant youth in Antwerp yesterday. Police say they don't know the motive yet, but don't rule out racism. Consequence: Morrocan youths attack the police, smash shop windows and destroy cars in the streets. In my old home town. Right now.
Even the Iranian news agency has the story! The youths claim they are just protesting, and that police is provoking them. Fine, but what do the shop and car owners have to do with this? Funny, but when a Belgian man was killed a few years ago by a Morrocan youth, I remember public outrage, but no windows were smashed at all. And not a single scratch was made on a car, anywhere.
But that doesn't stop the Belgian IndyMidiots from supporting the violence...

 
Death of the internet predicted...

...film at eleven. The BBC reports on another study that claims if you take out a hub on the net, the nodes depending on it will... gasp... lose their net connection! Read the article at the BBC's site: Risk of internet collapse rising.
That is, if you can reach it: your hub might be disconnected...

 
IndyMurderer!

It seems some whacko kid killed a police officer in California, and then went and bragged about it on sf.indymedia.org! He claims it was to protest something or other... Fat lot of good that will do for the cop's kid, who has no more daddy. Comments on the site are mixed, with some IndyMurderers even supporting him! Normally I am against the death penalty, but I wish some very bad things were done to this loony, just to set an example.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002
 
I love the internet!

Where else could I read all about how the ancient Druids were actually computer programmers, and Stonehenge was actually a mainframe! Read all about it here. (Note: bring your own supply of grains of salt...)

Monday, November 25, 2002
 
Kablooie!

For all you lovers of things going 'Kaboom', check out the movies at ImplosionWorld.com! (RealPlayer required)