A review of this book is available here.
Moroccan-Belgian journalist Hind Fraihi researched radical Islam in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels. She published her reports in Het Nieuwsblad and has now come out with a book called "Undercover in Klein-Marokko" (Undercover in Little Morocco) detailing her findings.
The following are parts of an interview with Fraihi. She was also interviewed on Dutch TV and the interview can be seen online.
Q: During your research in Molenbeek you posed as a student sociologist in order to ferret out how strongly extremism has penetrated Muslim society. Didn’t it feel like treason when you later wrote your findings down – first in articles for our newspaper and now in a book?
I was told it was a hunt for sensation. I was seeing a problem that wasn’t there. But then it became known that a Belgian convert had blown herself up in Iraq. If admit that I thought then for a moment, “Voila, there you have it already. Just solve it now.” I’m no traitor. I see myself first as a doctor. One that tries to trace the painful areas in the hope that a cure would be found. I’ve received criticism, but I haven’t lost friends for it. And I could always count on my parents’ full support. I even think that they’re proud because their daughter has begun a necessary debate. Only that debate has not yet arrived by the Muslims. I’m especially disillusioned by the lack of support from moderate Muslims. They have left me out in the codl. I know that many agree with me, but they prefer to shut their eyes.
Q: The pro-integration sector even accused you that you’re playing into Vlaams Belang’s hands. In your book you strike back: The integration sector is on a drip. Like a terminal patient that doesn’t accept his fate, they continue to twitch.”
That sector is completely absurd. For me it’s simple. Whoever doesn’t want to integrate, won’t
feel here at home and then we don’t need to invest any money in it either. Integration is a superfluous word. Everybody must hold by the general applying social rules. And whoever doesn’t think those rules are good must leave. I have good advice for all who don’t feel here at home: bug off.
Further we must live together simply in peace. But then indeed “together”. The existence of separate islands, such as in Molenbeek, where a separate Muslim state is grown and where Belgium feels sometimes so far away.
Q: You’re also very critical of Muslims. You describe them as “satellite junkies”, as “willing marionette”. But who holds the strings?
The Arab leaders. With the satellite dishes, the connection with the Arab world stays so strong that many immigrants don’t even try to build up connections with Belgium. And those Arab broadcasters fill most of the days with news reports about Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine.. Sensational pictures and stories, with the main goal to make sure that people don’t concern themselves with the enormous internal problems in the Arab countries.
Every now and then I don’t understand it at all. All those protests against the cartoons, for example. What difference could those silly cartoons make for me? There are so many much more terrible things. In most Arab lands medical care is lamentable, education is failing, and unemployment is sky high. There’s an enormous gulf between rich and poor. That is all blasphemy, that is against Islam. But against those they don’t go out on the street.
Q: Are you yourself religious?
Yes, Islam is my religion. I believe in Allah.
Q: During your talks with kids hanging around there was a lot of macho talk. Do you have the feeling that they really mean it when they say that they’ll sacrifice themselves for their Muslim brothers in Iraq?
I’m certain that some of these kids truly mean it. The frustration over their lack of future, their solidarity with the war victims and an ambition to be heroic is all swirling in their heads. They truly dream of their private hero tale. A few live with their head already in paradise. And yes, they truly believe in those virgins that wait there for them. It won’t surprise me if tomorrow a new suicide terrorist from Belgium will commit an attack in the Middle East.
Q: It’s clearly more than incomprehension by you. Here and there the anger bursts out of the pages
I’m angry. I love my religion and my origins. It pains me to see how some misuse that religion to incite people to violence. I see with sorry how those extremists get more and more influence. I feel how they try to force their vision also on moderate Muslims. In some neighborhoods you’ll be spit and swore at if you’re an unveiled Muslim women. Women like me are called “apostates”.
You also notice how those extremists talk about Belgians. A few years ago Belgians were simply Belgians, now they’re the “unbelievers”.
Q: At the end of your book you call to “do something”. But what?
The government must really tackle the problems in, for example, Molenbeek. They must show that they offer solution and not the extremists. Let them begin with the unemployment problem, especially that of the kids. Then they should put in effort into better education and the fight against filth and deterioration. Molenbeek should again look like a cheerful place.
But that is not only the task of the government. The Belgian Moroccan can also put in more effort, in place of always complaining that they’ve been left behind. Is it so difficult to sweep your own pavement clean and make sure that kids go to school? Why isn’t child care money taken away if kids don’t go to school? Why are there no fines when trash is thrown out on the pavement?
It sounds repressive? Maybe. But sometimes that is simply needed.
Source: Het Nieuwsblad (Dutch)