Redouane Ahrouch, co-founder of the ISLAM party, believes that by 2030 mainly Muslims will live in Brussels. He therefore desires a “100 percent pure Islamic state”, such as during the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
Men and women separated in the bus, halal food in the school cafeteria and electoral lists preferably without women: This is how Belgium would look if it goes to Redouane Ahrouch. The co-founder of the ISLAM party in Belgium wants a “100 percent pure Islamic state, like in the time of our beloved prophet Mohammed”, as he told the German news agency. He is convinced that by 2030 mainly Muslims will live in Brussels.
Such statements caused a commotion during the municipal elections last Sunday. The French magazine “Causeur” described the party agenda as follows: “Replace all civil and criminal law books with Sharia law. Point”. The party leadership, on the other hand, emphasizes that the Islamic state must comply with Belgian law.
In 2012 the party took place for the first time in the municipal councils of the Brussels boroughs of Anderlecht and Molenbeek – the latter is considered a stronghold and a refuge for radical Islamists. Here the terrorist Salah Abdeslam grew up, who according to research was involved in the attacks in Paris, in which 130 people died in November 2015.
Islamists apparently lure young people from Molenbeek via SMS
In Molenbeek and in the arrondissement of Brussels City, the ISLAM Party is on the election list for Sunday. Ahrouch himself has been a municipal councilor in Anderlecht so far. However, this will probably change in the near future. Because it was his list that was not admitted before the elections. According to the administration of Anderlecht, there were not enough valid signatures.
Ahrouch, on the other hand, sees himself as a victim of an intrigue. “I filed an appeal against my exclusion in Anderlecht,” he said. In his opinion, the elections in the district must be declared invalid.
But Ahrouch also has a headwind outside of politics. At the beginning of May, his employer, the local public transport company MIVB, informed him of this. “Of course we respect the freedom of expression, but we can not accept the party’s ideas on the grounds of discrimination”, according to a spokesperson for the company.
“This is not Europe, this spits on Europe”
Ahrouch was a bus driver for 25 years. Following his resignation as a bus driver, he wrote on Facebook that he could now spend his time on the Islamic liberation of his beloved people: “The struggle continues”.
The right-wing populist state secretary for asylum affairs Theo Francken does not want to let it go that far. The politician from the Flemish nationalist N-VA wrote on Twitter about the idea of separating men and women from local public transport: “This is not Europe, this spits on Europe”. The N-VA parliamentary leader in parliament, Peter De Roover, also warned: “The introduction of Sharia law means that no more debates will take place”.
But is the party really a threat to the Belgian state? “It is clear that their ideology is based on a form of radical and fundamentalist Islam”, says Dave Sinardet, professor of politics at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The proposals are therefore contrary to the rights and values of Belgium.
Sharia in Belgium?
But the political scientist is surprised at the sudden hype. “The party has suddenly become known because others have positioned themselves against it in public,” he says. But it is relatively small and unsuccessful. The party claims to have 313 members. Simply forbidding it is not an option for Sinardian. “In the past, Belgium has never introduced a ban on political parties”.
The Belgian women’s rights activist Darya Safai is extremely skeptical about the Islamic party: “It starts with the separation of men and women in the bus, but where does that lead? Where will this end? As an activist, Safai fought against Islamism in Iran. “After my escape from Iran I never thought that I would have to fight again in Europe years later”.
“The party wants to introduce Sharia law in Belgium. That makes women second-class citizens. Redouane Ahrouch seems to have already internalized that. During TV appearances, he refused to shake hands with Darya Safai and Secretary of State Zuhal Demir, and during the discussion he did not even look at her, “she says.