Islamonline, owned by Sheik Yusef Al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, this week visits the Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, which is just a short drive from the European Union colossus, NATO and other hulking, glass-and-steel fixtures of the "capital of Europe." What a perfect moment to feature some of my snaps from my summertime excursion to Molenbeek, where, as Islamonline writes:
In the immigrant-dominated neighborhood ... it is hardly possible to come across a blue-eyed or blonde haired person. Walking down Molenbeek streets, one cannot mistake the Islamic aura and spirit coloring the neighborhood. Young women in colorful hijab and young men sporting beards are the common face. Conversations and chatting flip between French and Arabic. The cafes of Molenbeek offer the famous Arabic tea instead of alcohol. The sound of recitation of the Noble Qur'an resonates from the shops dotting the neighborhood with signs bearing distinctive Arabic names....
And what does Molenbeek, a completely Islamic section in the heart of Europe--no blue eyes, no blonds, and sounds of the Koran resonating from Arabic-named shops--represent? In the words of a local mosque director quoted in the article, "Our neighborhood perfectly reflects the diversity and tolerance of the Belgian society."
Here, from personal snapshots of my summer trip to Molenbeek, is what "diversity and tolerance" in Belgium looks like. Hint: it doesn't look "diverse" or "tolerant"--unless "diverse" is a code word for "homogenously Islamic" and "tolerant" means sharia-compliant.
I've already posted my pics from the neighboring Brussels district known locally as "Garages" here. Up next, my photo album from beautiful Antwerp.