The Arab Spring Arrives in Belgium: Terror Attacks, Ghettos and Racism with Belgian Characteristics
By Sukant Chandan
22 March, 2016
Living on the edge of Molenbeek for around one year I have spent time in Moroccan communities in Belgium and working with them and the radical left on some political issues since the early 2000s. I have been a frequent visitor involved in political work in Belgium since the mid 1990s. Molenbeek is one of several ghettoes in Brussels. Despite the quaintness of Belgian terraced housing, with every house front being unique from its neighbours, despite the world famous 'Belgian' chocolate stolen from Africa; Molenbeek like Schaerbeek and Matonge (the other working class North African, African and Turkish ghettoes) are depressing and bleak places.
These ghettos are under resourced, neglected by the state, has overcrowded housing and high unemployment especially amongst the Black and Brown youth. Brussels has very little green spaces and recreational public spaces for children, young people and adults who want to pursue sports. The system doesn't even bother providing us with distractions in our poverty like basic public recreational infrastructure. While walking around one dodges the dog excrement that seems to litter Brussels throughout the city, and you see grown non-white men, fathers of children playing in tiny play areas, squashed in these small pitches alongside our children from the age around 6 years old. In the evenings bouncers and security of bars and music clubs systematically bar non-white men from entering, I myself was stopped on a few occasions at the entrance even though I was billed to Emcee at music events. My white colleagues in music had to reason with the security to let me in the venue.
Walking around and experiencing this colonially racislised life of our peoples in Brussels its like pages out of Fanon's Black Skin White Masks coming to life, racial oppression plays out in the streets with a few North African young men letting out their frustration wrongly and unjustly on white young people both male and female, while the police continue to harass and ensure that our youth know where their place is by calling them 'monkeys', playing out the backward country yokel type of racism on our youth. And every Christmas period, our peoples are reminded of what their role is in this racist society by most white Belgians celebrating the little Black slave helper - 'Black Pete' - to Father Christmas, and if we campaign against this we are 'attacking Belgian traditions'! Haven't we heard that countless times. It's European white supremacy with Belgian characteristics.
Central Brussels and these ghettoes reek of depression and dejection. They only thing that lifts one is the spirit and culture of the immigrant communities; the syrupy sweet mint tea being supped by Moroccan men sitting at the terraces of the Maghrebi cafes, the aromas of the mint tea wafting through the cobble streets from the small glasses of rows of men sitting in the terraces of the cafes, the Moroccan women standing on the doorsteps with their home clothes of tracksuits, with mops in hand, chatting away and rushing to the shops and back, the Moroccan sweet-meat shops, it as if the quick banter and atmosphere of Morocco is exported into the cold grey streets of Belgium. On top of the very old style white supremacy racism against all non white people, a very coarse unsophisticated racism (unlike London, for example) of a people, a country and government and society that knows very little about the outside world, and is not that interested, disinterested even more than the general western-centric conceit and arrogance that one finds across large swathes of western especially western white peoples.
While African and Asian people in the UK have for generations now organised hard in our communities, built many liberation-oriented grassroots movements and organisations since the 1950s, while we turned the cities upside down against racism and poverty especially in the late 1970s, African and Asian people have militantly demanded and organised for some semblance of breathing space which has forced the UK state to make concessions and to deepen the sophistication of their white supremacy and imperialism. It makes London a easier place to live than perhaps other areas of west Europe such as France and Belgium. However, in Belgium, African and Asian people have not seen any similar type of mass organising and struggle: our communities in Belgium remain weak and lacking collective and militant assertive capacity, actions and achievements.
When I was in Molenbeek for a conference in late 2001, there was a crudely sprayed graffiti next to the police station celebrating the 911 attacks on the twin towers. These ghettoes are relatively ripe for radicalising, and it has been the colonial supremacists using and abusing Islam that have made the greatest inroads amongst our youth, as these communities have seen no other liberating anti-imperialist movement presented to them save for a few years in the early 2000s, that saw a anti-racist and anti-imperialist movement collapse and subsequently its former leadership sell out the Resistance of Hizbullah and others and have gone into the imperialist enemy camp. The Belgian white left is as racist and ignorant as any other section of Belgian racist society, so our youth are left vulnerable to these supremacist forces, supremacist forces supported by the Belgian state in Libya, Syria and further afield, and supported by the Moroccan state and Belgium's regional allies.
With the aborted green-shoots of a militant anti-racist and anti-imperialist Arab-centric movement disappearing in the early 2000s, there was a hiatus of political organising, and then arrived the historic Nakba (catastrophe) of the Arab Spring in the 'Middle East, North African' region.
Some of my former anti-imperialist comrades in Belgium debunked to scupper under the political and actual wings of Nato, from opposing imperialism and supporting the Resistance they allied with imperialism and denounced the Resistance. Belgium proudly displayed their Nato 'surgical strikes' on Libya in 2011, and literally on the ground my former comrades were supporting the ground troops auxiliary forces of Nato in the 'rebels'. Imperialism became the 'resistance' and resistant countries and peoples like the Jamahirya, the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanese Hizbullah became the 'enemy'.
It is well documented and infamous that the Nato 'rebels' in Libya and Syria during and since 2011 have conducted lynching of communities they consider outside of their supremacism, they have mutilated, crucified, raped and looted in delivering the Arab Spring, nay Arab STING to the Libyan and Syrian people. A good number of the recruits for these death squads have come from the UK, Sweden, France and also Belgium.
Perhaps the Belgian intelligence services are not as advanced as those in the USA and UK, but Belgium has been assisted by France and other imperialist military intelligence, especially as we are told one of the leading organisers of the attacks against Paris was Belgian Moroccan heritage Salah Abdelsalam and his brother was one of the attackers. There was a siege and shoot out in Molenbeek where it is reported Abdelsalam was hiding in a house, and in a keystone cops moment, Abdelsalam defies the entire Belgian military state and its might by jumping out of a window in the siege and manages to run away. Similarly, two attackers against the Charlie Hebdo offices managed to drive through France, through Spain to Madrid airport and caught a plane to Turkey and then waltzed into joining Daesh in Syria.
This all points to 'collusion', ie., complex and sophisticated covert operations used by Western states to develop terrorism to achieve its global and domestic strategic objectives. The West did this by using death squads in Ireland, 'latin' America, Afghanistan in the 1980s, and is now doing this on a much deeper and grander scale with Daesh, Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, Daesh and NusJabhat Nusra amongst others.
That which Belgium and leading Nato countries have promoted and exported into Libya and Syria, those depraved massacres, gruesome attacks on the Humanity of our peoples that has been going on for more than five years arrived and wrought its havoc for a few seconds in Brussels this morning. Whereas the cheerleaders of the Arab Sting in Belgium, from the pro Nato grassroots up to the government celebrated this depravity in Libya and Syria, they will now consider what has happened in Brussels today a great crime, a massacring and horrifically unjust act; and they would be right. But why is not the same depravity and collapsing of entire countries that is the hallmark of the Arab Spring not celebrated when it manifests for a few seconds in Brussels, or Paris?
Western / imperialist supremacism is very powerful, it will get people who think they oppose capitalism and imperialism to support just that, it will get people from Libya and Syria to shout an scream to demand that Nato bomb their countries to 'liberation', and it will make people support murdering madness in the 'third world', but denounce it and suddenly become good responsible citizens of Belgium when their same beloved Arab Sting arrives on their doorstep.
As Belgian and other western imperialisms see their system dive into greater crises, the most parasitic cultural and physical elements of the system is enlarged: rape and lynching promoted as 'Arab spring' and 'liberation', Europe's non-white poorest targeted and scaepgoated as the culprits for the growing malaise, refugees from imperialism's wars fingered as the destabilising force. All the while, and unlike a similar period in European history of the 1930s, Europe sees no organised and strategic Resistance. Can the spirit of our anti-imperialist Resistance, and the legacies of the communist anti-imperialists of Europe who fought and martyred in the streets in the streets in their thousands of Berlin in the late 1920s and 1930s against Hitler's hordes return in a 21st century form? No sign, but don't we increasingly desperately need it!
Collusion with Death Squads in the Muslim World
Seize the Time: Black Panther leader Bobby Seale
Beating the Fascists (communist street wars against fascism in Germany)
Settlers: Myth of the white proletariat
Our Flag Stays Red ( radical socialist grassroots organising)