Arthur van Amerongen, a Dutch journalist, had spent many years as a war correspondent in the middle east. He had spent the past year submerging himself in the Muslim world in Brussels. His sensational and sharply written book BXL Eurabia is as startling as it's hallucinatory. Belgian magazine Knack had seen the manuscript and invited the author for a talk.
In 2006 Van Amerongen won the prize for Dutch journalism (Prijs van de Nederlandse journalistiek) for a well-balanced story about Moroccans in Het Parool. In 2005 he won the Zilveren Reissmicrofoon (a prestigious Dutch radio award) for Inburgerking (Integration King), again a show about Moroccans.
Q: In Het Parool you wrote that you love Moroccans, despite the cowardly murder of Theo Van Gogh. After more than a year infiltrating the Muslim world in Brussels, you write that you can't stand most Moroccans. Where did it go wrong?
ARTHUR VAN AMERONGEN: Now I've left Brussels and there's some distance [between me and] my subject, I also have my powers of perspective back. In addition several incidents during the end of my stay in Brussels have somewhat branded me. I was molested by a group of Moroccans in Hoogstraat after they first called my girlfriend a whore and in reply I shouted at them "your sister". I also went through a couple of robberies. So the feeling for nuances disappeared.
I also had enormous difficulties with the double morale of their culture: on the one hand they're fanatical about their exalted morale and the superiority of Islam, on the other hand there's a growing contempt for our achieved liberal ideas. There's a sort of lawlessness among Moroccans because they look down on our culture. Our women are all whores. By the Moroccans the honor of the woman is supposedly maximally protected. There are also looking constantly at how far they can go. Their attitude is often provocative.
Q: Moroccans in Brussels are strongly under the influence of Jihad. Is the tension there really so much more than in Amsterdam?
ARTHUR VAN AMERONGEN: a specific group of Islamic youth is fascinated by Jihad. I do think that Brussels is a time bomb. Moroccans are totally marginalized there. Look at the statistics of unemployment, poverty, the bad accommodations, the discrimination in the labor market, the criminality. I think that Moroccans in the Netherlands, or even better in Amsterdam, have it a bit better than the Moroccans in Molenbeek. For many youth Islam is the only consolation. I have been to many lectures in Brussels in Islamic association halls. They were attended by all possible youth, from those dressed hip to those dressed as if in Mecca. That phenomenon doesn't exist in Amsterdam.
Q: Will there be a Muslim attack in Brussels?
ARTHUR VAN AMERONGEN: It looks to me like a matter of time. If you see how many people had been arrested in Brussels in the past seven years you know that the city is a time bomb. There's an urban legend that says that there has always been an agreement between the terrorist groups and the government. It wasn't for nothing that the Afghan mujaheddin could open an office here undisturbed in the beginning of the 80s, because they fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan - typical Cold War politics. The same goes for the Algerian FIS: Terrorists wanted in Algeria got political asylum in Belgium. In the end all those extremists left for Londonistan with all the results of that for the United Kingdom. Belgium is of course not in Iraq or Afghanistan, but that doesn't have to be the only reason for an attack. You only need one crazy person with their own agenda. Above all, there are naturally interesting targets such as NATO and the European Parliament. A lot will depend on the foreign policy of the European Parliament.
Source: Knack (Dutch)