Charles Dick, Reuters, Dec. 9
RABAT — Most Europeans are afraid of Islam because terrorists carry out attacks in its name, a Belgian far-right leader said on Thursday in the Muslim Arab state of Morocco, from which many of his country’s immigrants originate.
Filip Dewinter, a prominent member of Belgium’s opposition far-right Vlaams Belang party, was speaking at a news conference shunned by Moroccan journalists and after failing to persuade any senior government official to meet him.
“I say out loud what Europeans think to themselves. I think the vast majority of Europeans are afraid of Islam, that is to say because they are afraid of the radicalisation of Islam,” he said.
“They are afraid of terrorism which is carried out in the name of Islam. I am not saying that Islam is responsible for terrorism, but I say that people are afraid because there are terrorists who claim to act in Islam’s name.”
Dewinter, who was on a 24-hour visit to Morocco with his Vlaams Belang party delegation, said he hoped to persuade Moroccans that Belgium “is not a land of milk and honey”.
He said his party was not racist or xenophobic, neither were his proposals for repatriation of illegal immigrants and the establishment, with European Union help, of refugee camps in North Africa for migrants including those from sub-Saharan Africa.
Morocco’s government refused any contact with the Vlaams Belang delegation.