Molenbeek

The garishly painted theater has always been trying not to conform. Beginning as a cabaret-vaudeville-dancehall-theater back in 1864, the Le Bataclan is now a popular venue in Paris for indie-rock, garage-rock, post-punk-rock, new-wave-rock and other kinds of alternative rock concerts that have found a growing number of followers among the non-conformists and the avante-garde of Paris in recent years. An alternative joint – for alternative people.

Until this September, Le Bataclan was owned by a pair of Sayanim  – Jewish diaspora who actively participate in promoting Israel and also volunteer with the Mossad in carrying out espionage for Israel within their present country of citizenship and domicile. They usually help out on an honorary basis, without compensation, so high is their level of commitment to the Jewish cause. Mossad would not been the feared intelligence service that it is today, had it not been for it’s sayanim. The recently released American-Israel spy, Jonathan Pollard and his wife, were sayanim, though they did get reimbursed a paltry sum by the Mossad for their treachery.

The Le Bataclan’s proprietors regularly held events in the venue, promoting Israel and thus it had over time become a target of threats from Islamic extremists – a hazard that grew steadily over the years, from anonymous assassination threats to bombing, arson calls and ultimatums. It is perhaps due to the heightening risk to their personal safety as well as that of the building and it’s patrons that this September, the proprietors sold the theater to unknown investors.

It obviously wasn’t soon enough.

On the late evening of Friday the 13th November, a grotesquely noisy and eminently avoidable rock band named Eagles of Death Metal, had been playing to a packed crowd of crazy youngsters who were on their feet, waving wildly, the drinks in their outstretched hands sloshing around in gay abandon.

Around an hour into the concert, a Volkswagen Polo pulled up outside the theater, disgorging three heavily armed men who quickly made their way inside, leaving behind the driver who swung the car around and parked in an unobtrusive spot on the adjacent Blvd Voltaire. And then, without bothering to lock the car door behind him, the driver got off and melted into the crowds.

The rest is history. Unless you are six or in Pago Pago on holiday, you have heard about the ensuing carnage that unfolded.

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The Volkswagen Polo was black and spanking new but otherwise non-descript and it would have remained there for a week before it aroused any interest, had it not been for the Belgian plates. Inside, in the corner of the front passenger seat was a parking ticket with a place name on it that has quickly become a household name, gathering infamy as the new terror capital of the world – Molenbeek.

Take a short westerly stroll from the center of Brussels, with its art nouveau houses and majestic squares and you will reach a canal, beyond which lies a less picturesque quarter of the Belgian capital.

During the Industrial Revolution it was known as ‘Little Manchester’, by dint of the many thriving factories and warehouses that sprang up beside the newly-built waterway. Today, ‘Little Morocco’ would be a more appropriate epithet. Crossing the bridge into this quarter, you feel as though you have abruptly exited Europe and entered some seething Middle Eastern or North African ghetto.

The artisans and entrepreneurs who made this such a prosperous district — devoutly Roman Catholic Walloons and God-fearing Protestant Flemings — have moved long ago. Their handsome, four-storey houses are now divided into tenements, cheaply rented to the so-called ‘New Belgians’ who make up the great majority of the area’s 100,000 population — predominantly second and third-generation Moroccans and Turks.

Towering above these terraces, there is a ring of grim, prematurely dilapidated high-rise blocks whose flats have been handed out to more recently arrived immigrants, including a good many refugees and asylum seekers subsisting on welfare hand-outs. Since a large percentage of Molenbeek’s 100,000 residents are Muslims, there are 22 mosques here that are funded and run by extremist outfits such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Five times a day the streets echo to the muezzin’s wailing call to prayer.

Many shop signs are in Arabic, butchers are almost exclusively halal and there is a bustling, souk-style open market. Full-face veils are worn as routinely as in Tangier and Benghazi. When a woman in a burka was arrested last year for shop-lifting and refusing to take off her veil in order to have her mugshot taken, local youths attacked the police station.

Being over 30% Muslim, Molenbeek boasts of having produced a string of the veritable who’s who of the world of violent extremism. The shooter from the May 2014 attack on Brussels’ Jewish Museum, Mehdi Nemmouche, made Molenbeek his home for a time. So did Ayoub El Khazzani, the man who opened fire on a French train this past August. Amedy Coulibaly, the man who attacked the kosher supermarket in Paris in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo slayings last January, bought his guns in this district. At least two of the eight gunmen from Friday’s attack called Molenbeek their home. The ring-leader himself, the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks, 27-year old Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was a resident of Molenbeek.

It is due to Molenbeek – not Raqqa in Syria, or Peshawar in Pakistan – that Belgium has gained the unenviable moniker of the top terror nursery of the world. According to the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, over 440 Belgian citizens have traveled to fight in Syria’s civil war alone, the highest per capita of any country in Europe.

Of late, there has been a lot of back and forth in TV talk shows and opinion pieces on the question of why Molenbeek, of all places, produces so many bloodthirsty terrorists. One reason immediately stares you in the face – it is the general policy that the Belgian Government has long been adopting toward it’s migrant population – ‘throw them in a ghetto and cordon them off and let them do what they like. Don’t let the miserable sods into the Belgian mainstream – they are savages and believe in savage laws. Let them build their mosques, finger their prayer beeds and walk around like penguins. By all means, enjoy their ethnic cuisine, their festivals, colors, spices, their little cafés and restaurants and their kabobs. But don’t admit them inside the opportunities gravy train – use them for menial labor – swabbing, mopping, sweeping, dish-washing and fruit-picking. Where they come from, trust us, they’ll be more than happy with what they get. See that they remain there in the fringes of the economy. Just pretend they don’t exist the rest of the time.’

The relationship that Belgium has with it’s migrant community is an uneasy one. If you are a migrant, sure, they let you build a home and a life but they don’t want to really see you around too much. If a white Christian Belgian guy sees more than ten dark-skinned Muslims in one day, he starts getting edgy, with a they are all over us rash breaking out. By all means, go to work, earn your living, live your dream, but stay unobtrusive, in the background – in the kitchens, the public toilets, the construction sites and the mines and you’ll be fine.

This mindset used to work until a decade and a half ago – not anymore. The natural-born next gen thinks differently from it’s docile and subdued migrant fathers and mothers. Just going to work mopping railroad station floors isn’t enough for them. They want a seat at the table. If they don’t get it, they’ll wrench it out of the hands of the establishment.

There are municipalities like Molenbeek all over the developed world but not all of them have the dubious distinction of producing Islamic radicals in hordes though, but the chances of that happening with Muslims do seem higher on the face of it.

In his book Slavery, Terrorism and Islam, prominent social scientist, Dr. Peter Hammond, has a hypothesis that explains the reason for Molenbeek being what it is on the growth in Muslim population density in non-Islamic nations.

Hammond’s hypothesis, though it does seem like a very sweeping generalization, still is a very tempting one to fall for. It states that a Muslim community in a non-Islamic society remains docile and law-abiding as long it has a density of less than 1% of the population. At 2-3% Muslims will begin to proselytize among other ethnic minorities and start recruiting from the disaffected. From 5% on, they will start exerting pressure as a voting bloc and begin playing power-behind-the-throne politics, pushing the ruling government to give them concessions like leaving them alone to rule themselves, under Sharia.

At 5-10% as per Hammond, there is going to be a push-back against the ingrained bigotry of the Christian west, with an increase in lawlessness and violent protests on the pretext of offense to their Islamic sensibilities (re: Charlie Hebdo). At 20% – if you live in India for instance – you have a T-Rex in the room – a powerful electoral constituency, hair trigger rioting, a burgeoning underworld that is mixed up in extremism and the formation of insurgent groups.

At this point, Dr. Hammond begins to sound cringe-producing, like as if he is a virulent amalgamation of Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Ann Coulter. This is where you pick up the salt cellar….

Pray that you never reach 40%, says Hammond. At that level you will find widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, kidnappings, beheadings and ongoing militia warfare. And over 60%? He says that you will see the face of pure evil – with unfettered persecution of non-believers and other religions, sporadic ethnic cleansing, use of Sharia Law as a weapon and Jizya, the tax placed on infidels.

If you go by his hypothesis, there probably won’t be any 70, 80 or 90% levels. Remember how the black spot gradually consumes Jupiter in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010 – The year we made contact. At those levels, the spread will grow like an uncontained nuclear chain reaction. Diversity and multiculturalism shall not be tolerated even a little. There will be no place in those societies for non-Muslims, except as trading partners and visitors.

Now about 100% – fanatical Muslims actually believe that at 100% population density (when every single member of the population is a Muslim), they shall have eternal peace. Now, isn’t that an ironic oxymoron? Haven’t 85% of the Muslims killed in Syria and Iraq been murdered by other Muslims?

Belgium is headed toward 10% within the next two years. And Molenbeek itself – it already stands at 31% as of today.