“Allah, kill the despicable Christians. Allah, kill each and every last one of them” a young Muslim prayed aloud as he walked down the main street of the Belgian city of Verviers during the recent Ramadan holiday. His “prayer,” which went on for more than a minute, was filmed and posted on social media.
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For many days it didn’t attract much attention. Until The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translated and disseminated the video in early August.
Before long, the Belgian, French and Flemish press had all jumped on the story. An outcry ensued.
The young man had been filmed in Verviers, a central Belgian city where Islamic terrorists cells were uncovered in 2015. And his call to kill Christians was sounded not long after the grisly murder of a French priest in the church near Rouen. The story of the Muslim man publicly calling for the murder of Christians made big headlines in all the Belgian media.
Immigration Minister Theo Francken got involved, and the police launched an investigation. It was soon discovered that the youth in the video was the 16-year-old son of Imam Sheikh Alami, a local radical cleric with Dutch and Moroccan citizenship. Belgium has issued Alami with a deportation order, accusing him of incitement to hatred and of urging young people to join the jihad in Syria. The order has not been carried out pending a court appeal. Francken told Belgian state television channel RTBF: “It’s obvious that his father, the imam, is promoting such ideas not just to fighters to join the battle in Syria, but also to his own children. The young man who appears in the video reflects the father’s views, and I understand and empathize with the great concern that city residents have over this.”
“I have been deeply appalled since I heard these things,” added Verviers mayor Muriel Targnion. “I categorically denounce them. We’ve got two teenagers here, the one filmed and the one who did the filming, whom we know have been radicalized, but the local police have no authority when it comes to terrorism. My hands are tied too. It’s a matter for the federal police. This young man poses a danger to the people of my city. I demand a diligent effort by the relevant authorities and I hope he will be arrested.”
Police detectives who tried to summon the imam’s son for questioning discovered that he was on vacation in Morocco.
The teen’s lawyer told the media that he had talked to him by telephone. “He told me he wished to return to Belgium as soon as possible in order to explain the background to the statements he is charged with making,” said the lawyer. “His father, Imam Alami, is very horrified, as a European citizen, by the statements being ascribed to his son.”
The imam also issued a long explanation in a Facebook post, claiming that “the things that were said have a symbolic, traditional meaning and do not convey any real intention of harming Christians or Jews or anyone else. I am a seeker of peace.”
The Verviers police are still waiting to question the imam’s son.