In Belgium Muslims help rebuilt a synagogue

SHAFAQNA – After Muslims in Belgium came aware of a neighboring Jewish community’s financial difficulties, Brussels Muslims got together to organize a fundraising, calling on people to donate towards the reconstruction of Belgium’s oldest synagogue.

“We have decided to organize a fundraising to provide help and testify publicly our solidarity,” Mohamed Bouezmarni, general secretary of the Association of Muslims of Arlon, told European Jewish Press (EJP) on Sunday, March 2.

“In line with our values of generosity and mutual assistance, the Muslim community of Arlon is willing to give a hand in this project of general interest.”

The Muslim fundraising campaign followed media reports about the dire situation of the country’s oldest synagogue, which is a part of the architectural and religious heritage of Belgium.

“Beyond the discourse on ‘living together’, we want to go further and build a ‘do together’,” Bouezmarni of the Muslim Association said.

Built more than a century ago, the historical synagogue was listed in 2005 as a major heritage in the Wallonia Region.

Last summer, the Synagogue was closed over collapse risk because of the spread of “dry rot and moisture problems”.

The local Muslim community aims to collect 400,000 Euros needed to restore the 1865 synagogue.

Belgian Muslims are estimated at 638,000 – out of a 11.2-million-population, according to numbers released by Pew Research Center in October 2010.

More than 25 percent of the population of Brussels is of Muslim origin coming from Morocco, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other African countries.

There are 77 mosques or prayer rooms in Brussels and over 300 across Belgium.

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