Belgium has taken heavy criticism in the wake of the Brussels and Paris attacks for being a breeding ground of terrorists in Europe, many of whom head to Syria and Iraq to fight.
One small Belgian city in the Dutch-speaking Flemish region, known as Mechelen, has earned itself the reputation of succeeding in preventing radicalization – with none of its citizens having traveled to join the ISIL terror group.
CCTV’s Jack Parrock reports.
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The mayor of Mechelen has run a three part plan: firstly, to accept new reality of the demographic so everyone can feel ownership of the town, secondly to take a hardline against criminality, and thirdly to focus on inclusive social programs and education and to funds all neighborhoods equally.
“Where criminality is in the picture, extremists will follow. You can only do it when you stop discriminating people because discrimination is of course something that the extremists can use, they can use the feeling of being discriminated to radicalize people, so you have to make a society that walks its talk,” Bart Somers, Mechelen’s mayor said.
Of Mechlen’s 90,000 populations, 20 percent are Muslim but no one from this city has reportedly traveled to the Middle East to fight with ISIL. In contrast, other Belgian cities like Brussels and Antwerp have recorded the highest numbers per capita.
The so called Mechelen model is being held up across Europe for other towns and cities who are likely to see high numbers of fighters returning home in the wake of the assault on Mosul in Iraq.
Sajjan Gohel on combating extremism
Cities like Mechelen have created new ways to combat international terrorism and radicalism. So, how are other places fighting this issue? CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar spoke with Sajjan Gohel, international security director of Asia-Pacific Foundation to learn more about the issue.