Calls to ban group in Belgium linked with French ‘Islamist pharmacy’

MP says Belgium cannot become a 'fall-back zone' for extremists

Belgian Minister of SMEs, Entrepreneurs, Agriculture and Social Integration Denis Ducarme gestures at a hearing of the parliamentary commission for public health, at the federal parliament, in Brussels on March 19, 2018. - The commission is set to discuss recent scandals at meat processing firm Veviba. Veviba, part of the Verbist group, which saw it's license revoked after a multitude of food safety breaches were documented by an inspection. (Photo by DIRK WAEM / Belga / AFP) / Belgium OUT
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A Belgium politician is leading calls to ban a new group with links to an "Islamist pharmacy" which was forced to close in France.

The Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) was forced to dissolve in France following a backlash over its campaign against teacher Samuel Paty who was then beheaded by an extremist.

Mr Paty was killed after he showed students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during a lesson.

Candles are lit at a makeshift memorial as people gather to pay homage to Samuel Paty, the French teacher who was beheaded on the streets of the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, as part of a national tribute, in Nice, France, October 21, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Candles are lit at a makeshift memorial as people gather to pay homage to Samuel Paty, the French teacher who was beheaded on the streets of Paris. Reuters

This month, CCIF, which was described as an "Islamist pharmacy" by France's Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, announced it was being liquidated and was transferring some of its assets to a new Belgium group called the Collective Against Islamophobia in Europe (CCIE).

Last November, two French nationals filed documents in Brussels to launch CCIE just three days after CCIF was dissolved.

Now, Belgium politician Denis Ducarme is leading calls for the nation to ban it under a bill going through parliament to ban organisations which incite hatred, violence and discrimination.

He said its relocation to Brussels was "intolerable" and Belgium should not be a "fall-back zone" for extremists.

"I will call on the Minister for Justice, Vincent Van Quickenborne," he wrote on Twitter.

"Our country cannot once again become a fall-back zone for Islamists."

"I find it extremely dangerous to have such an organisation established in Belgium, given the actions of its members in France," he told De Kanttekening.

"We must ban all organisations that incite hatred and violence, as well as associations that oppose our values."

Mr Ducarme is urging Belgium's interior minister, Annelies Verlinden, to meet her French counterpart Mr Darmanin to "assess" CCIE's risk.

Mr Darmanin has called the CCIF an “enemy of the Republic”.

CCIF announced on Facebook this month it would be transferring its assets and resources to "other associations, including the CCIE" .

"The assets of our association have been transferred to partner associations which will take over the fight against Islamophobia on a European scale," it said.

Mr Van Quickenborne vowed to monitor CCIE and said action would be taken against individuals if necessary, rather than the organisation.

"For the moment, dissolution is not on the agenda. Our security services are following this type of case very closely, " he told news channel Bel RTL.

"The outlawing of an organisation is not planned in Belgium because it is too great a violation of freedom of association. But if there are extremist individuals, we can always take action against them."

He cited the case of Sharia4Belgium, which was disbanded in 2012, which saw the authorities take action against 45 people for recruiting fighters for ISIS.

The CCIF has been closely linked to two grandsons of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hassan al Banna, and both men have represented the group as speakers at various charitable functions.

Hani Ramadan is banned from France and his assets have been frozen. He is accused of having adopted behaviour and made comments "posing a serious threat to public order on French soil".

His brother Tariq, a former professor at Oxford University, is facing five rape charges.