In New York, as in the Belgian parliament, you can meet more and more people who are convinced that the Islamization of Brussels -- and London and other capitals, they often add -- is now inevitable and only a matter of time.
The growth of the Muslim population in Brussels has been both enormous and meteoric. Over the past 50 years, the number of Muslims has grown steadily, and given the erasure of Europe's borders, thanks to the 1985 Schengen Agreement, there seems to be no end in sight.
As many countries in Europe do not designate people by race or ethnicity, figures are not easy to establish. If we want to remain scientific and factual, it is not by noting the popularity of the first name Mohamed. The last reliable study on the number of Muslims, unfortunately, was done by Prof Jan Hertogen, dates from 2015/2016, and has been adopted by the US State Department. According to that study, the percentage of Muslims in Brussels in 2015 was 24% of the population. More recent figures have been provided by the Pew Research Center, but only for Belgium as a whole, without details by city. In another, 2016 poll, 29% of Brussels residents claimed to be Muslim. Looking at the growth curve, we can estimate that the percentage of Muslims now in Brussels is likely to be slightly beyond 30%.
These figures obviously are not evidence of a Muslim majority in Brussels – or anything near it – at least for now – although birth rates still remain higher for Muslims than for "native" Belgian women.
So far, Brussels is not predominantly Muslim. Immigration is not, like gravity, an immutable fact. Across Europe, with the exception of Wallonia, we are witnessing an awakening of the population and the rise to power of parties and personalities seeking zero immigration, or at least a moratorium on immigration.
Despite the claims of many that in Europe, immigration is inevitable, there may be nothing necessarily inevitable about it. What seems to have created the current chaos is the well-meaning but calamitously unthinking jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), combined with the disastrous "Wir schaffen das" ("We can manage this") of Germany's then Chancellor, Angela Merkel. The ECHR's extreme interpretation of "open borders" hinders the development of a workable asylum policy.
In 2012, the ECHR introduced the "Hirsi ruling," named after the legal case of Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy. This ruling asserts that European states are legally obligated to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, even if they are just 200 meters from the Libyan coast, and transport them to a European port, allowing these individuals to claim refugee status. When the Italian Navy intercepted illegal migrants in the Mediterranean and returned them to Libya, the ECHR not only condemned Italy for what it considered an "evident" violation of human rights but also required the Italians to pay 15,000 euros ($17,000 at the time) to each of these illegal migrants as compensation for "moral damage." This amount is equivalent to more than 10 years of income in the home countries of Mr. Hirsi Jamaa and his companions, Somalia and Eritrea, and most probably the reason they wanted to come to Europe in the first place. (In 2016, Somalia's GDP per capita was estimated at $400, and Eritrea's at $1,300.)
The Hirsi ruling became widely known, particularly in Africa, leading many to understand that if they could just reach the Mediterranean, European navies would now be obligated to transport them directly to Europe. Before the Hirsi ruling, individuals attempting to reach European shores each year faced tragic deaths at sea – sometimes in the hundreds. After Hirsi, the goal of many migrants shifted to being intercepted and rescued. Consequently, literally millions of people now make this journey, often with the assistance of non-governmental organizations, such as Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), whose activists wait for boats near the Libyan coast.
Immigration is not a natural disaster that befalls Europe, like a plague of locusts or a drought. The migration chaos we are experiencing in Europe is purely a human catastrophe, caused by dreamy policies and faceless judges who are accountable to no one.
The migrants already here are here, but further mass influxes of migrants, such as many countries are experiencing, can be stopped the day after tomorrow by neutralising the ECHR -- simply by opting out of it. It will be interesting to see what Dutch MP Geert Wilders brings to the Netherlands. He may have watered down his most extreme views, but still might want to end the flow of migrants to his beautiful country. In any event, leaving the ECHR is at least one option.
The European Union, by the way, and the Council of Europe -- on which the European Court of Human Rights depends -- are two distinct international organizations. The Netherlands could leave the Council of Europe, if they wished, while remaining a member of the EU.
The temptation to prejudge
The massive settlement of Muslim populations in Europe -- 57 million people by 2050, as projected by the Pew Research Center -- is being experienced dramatically by attacks on civilians, harassment of civilians, no-go-zones with inhabitants who appear not to wish to assimilate, and outspoken concern that a significant proportion of the newcomers are, or are becoming, radicalized.
This new sentiment in Europe could be seen long before the current Israel-Hamas war, with the proselytization of these new Europeans by programs from the Middle East (such as here and here). In Belgium, anti-Semitic prejudice is reportedly more widespread among Muslims. Pro-Palestinian marches since October 7 have all too often been the pretext for raw anti-Semitic slogans not seen since Nazi rallies in the 1930s and 1940s. In France, sadly, the vast majority of anti-Semitic acts and attacks have apparently been committed by Muslims.
In London, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, to his
great credit, condemned the "Hamas sympathisers" who joined these demonstrations and were "singing antisemitic chants and brandishing pro-Hamas signs and clothing".
We all, however, must guard against the temptation to oversimplify and prejudge – a tendency that appears widespread. Although Islam is a religion, with laws and a doctrine like other religions, one cannot, however, leave it in the same way as one might leave socialism, environmentalism or Catholicism. In Islamic law, apostasy can be punishable by death.
Additionally, many Muslims in Europe feel an intensity about Islam that we do not feel about our Judeo-Christian tradition. Often, we even seem -- dangerously -- to take it for granted and risk throwing it away. Many Muslims, conversely, appear to take for granted that wherever they are should be Islamic. To many Muslims, Islam appears to be "very important" in their life. To many in the West, religion is not necessarily "very important," but often somewhere in the periphery, except perhaps during the high holidays. Many Muslims also seem have the conviction, that the world should bend to Islam, not the other way around.
If, then, we assume Islam is an immovable and timeless concept that disregards all other factors and dominates all considerations, we are just reaffirming the mindset of Islamists. Perhaps it is important to remember that over time, nothing remains unchangeable.
To think now that Brussels, London, Paris, Berlin, Antwerp will inevitably become Islamic is to promise victory in advance. It is defeatist thinking, which Winston Churchill, in his six-volume series, The Second World War, describedas more threatening than all the Nazi divisions put together.
Tolerating the representatives of Islamist terrorism
One of the elements that lends credence to the idea of an "Islamist Brussels" -- or anyplace-- is the astonishing tolerance shown by the Belgian authorities towards representatives and individuals linked to Islamist terrorist organisations. For example, The London Times recently revealed:
"A British man has been accused by the German authorities of being Hamas's key liaison in Europe with numerous alleged links to the terrorist organisation... Der Spiegel, a German news magazine, names Al-Zeer as the 'person responsible for Hamas' in Germany and across Europe."
Al-Zeer has an office in Brussels that enables him to directly monitor events at the European Commission. According to a December 2023 report by 7sur7, Al-Zeer is the "real boss" of a non-profit association called EUPAC, which describes itself as the "European Palestinian Council for Political Relations".
According to Laatste Nieuws, Al-Zeer, aged 61, is from Bethlehem, and fled to Kuwait with his family at the age of six during Israel's Six Day War. In the 1990s, he settled in Britain, becoming an influential Palestinian activist, already, at the time, linked to Hamas.
According to The Times, in 2009, in an interview with Felesteen, a newspaper affiliated with Hamas, he spoke about a relative who had joined the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedin Al-Qassam Brigades.
In London, Al-Zeer was reportedly one of the founders of the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), a pressure group set up in 1996 to defend the "right of return" of all refugees to "Palestine." In 2018, Germany's internal security agency, Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, described the PRC as a Hamas front organisation and a "central propaganda organisation for Hamas in Europe", used by Hamas and its supporters in Germany and Europe for their activities. A photograph dating from 2008 shows Al-Zeer alongside Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, and another picture from 2015 shows him alongside Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
According to The Daily Mail:
"A file from the German interior ministry, first reported by magazine Der Spiegel, named Al-Zeer as the 'person responsible for Hamas' in Germany and across Europe."
EUPAC has other members close to Hamas, including the second and third members of its organisational chart — Mazen Kahel and Omar Faris — who have held senior positions in the PRC. One of them Mazen Kahel was also a co-founder of the Council for Euro-Palestinian Relations, a non-profit organisation based in Brussels, founded in 2010 and dissolved in 2016, but was on the European Union's official list of pressure groups.
EUPAC, which also appears to be dedicated to lobbying, has its official headquarters on Place Robert Schuman in Brussels, overlooking the European Commission's Berlaymont building -- a perfect symbol of the Belgian authorities' appalling laxity.
Islam and Islamism as a totalitarian ideology can be defeated. With its policy of open borders, Europe has taken the path of submission. The freedom of movement of Hamas's "key liaison" in Europe is the ultimate symptom of this submission. A moratorium on immigration might be a good place to start.
Drieu Godefridi is a jurist (University Saint-Louis, University of Louvain), philosopher (University Saint-Louis, University of Louvain) and PhD in legal theory (Paris IV-Sorbonne). He is an entrepreneur, CEO of a European private education group and director of PAN Medias Group. He is the author of The Green Reich (2020).