SHAFAQNA – According to media reports in Belgium, women hailing from ethnic and religious minority groups, most specifically Muslims, have been the subject of an intimidation campaign by far right groups in Brussels.
Muslim women were confronted and intimidated by right-wing protesters disrupted a peace vigil dedicated to victims of the Brussels attacks.
The women were singled out by members of a group of 400 demonstrators at an initially peaceful gathering held to remember the victims of last week’s terror attacks in the Belgian capital.
As members of the public laid floral tributes to the victims of Tuesday’s attacks at a makeshift memorial, police clashed with the group, which was seen making Nazi salutes and confronting ethnic minority groups including women, according to the BBC.
Adrian Liston, who was present at the vigil, told the BBC that the memorial had been disrupted by a “bunch of skinheads” who had turned up “in force”.
“They marched into the square and started a major confrontation with the peace protesters,” he added.
On Monday, the death toll rose to 35, not including the three suicide bombers, officials confirmed.
The additional deaths include two more American citizens, bringing the total number of US citizens killed in the attack to four.
Belgium’s crisis centre website said there were 35 victims, but said only 28 of the victims had been formally identified.
The foreigners killed were British, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Swedish and US nationals.
The formal “march against fear” through the city was cancelled by Belgian police, as they felt they could not ensure the safety of the crowds and wanted to focus on tracking down people involved in the attacks.
But significant police resources were eventually drawn to the Place de la Bourse, where a peaceful crowd containing Muslims and non-Muslims was confronted by around 400 fascists.
They were seen picking out Muslim women from the crowd at the vigil and singling them out for aggressive, confrontational abuse.
Many of the men wore balaclavas or ‘Anonymous’ masks, and they chanted nationalist, anti-immigrant and anti-Isis slogans.
They also made Nazi salutes and waved flares in the air, before being dispersed by riot police using truck-mounted water cannons.
Radicalization has become a troubling issue in Europe, as many far-right groups have used so-called Islamic radicalism to justify their own, while somewhat rationalizing their own bigotry and racist hatred.
At such time as great upheaval we would do well to remember the words of our Imam Ali, when he called on all men and women to remember that while they might no share in the same faith, they will always be brother in humanity.
Whether we care to admit it or not, we are all God’s Creation … colours and all.