Brussels: Attacks scare school away

Brussels: Attacks scare school away

The attacks apparently started after allegations of police abuse, which were followed by riots in the neighborhood.  See Brussels: Police abuse leads to riots in prison, suburbs and Brussels: Police get death threats following abuse charges.


After a wave of attacks, the  technical institute moved its classes from Anderlecht to the Koningstraat (in Schaarbeek) in Brussels.

The management of the Institut Supérieur Industriel de Bruxelles (Isib) in Grondelsstraat in Anderlecht moved classes for its 250 engineering students to the Koningsstraat campus. In Anderlecht it was too unsafe.  Already since December, students have been attacked by street criminals, who pin them down and then extort and steal from them.  The attackers regularly put a knife to their throat, with knife injuries as a result sometimes.  "Racketeering" it's called.

They filched the students of their phones, iPods and money.  A student who was already robbed, had to shortly after hand over his hat and glasses to another attacker.  The incidents occurred on the way from or to the Zuidstation (Brussels South train station) or Clemenceau metro station.  Despite the bad name of the neighborhood, Kuregem, it's only because so bad recently.  "The past 25 years I've gone through three attacks, in recent weeks it got to six a week," says François Debast, principal of Isib.

"Practical classes still take place in the labs in Anderlecht, but the regular courses take place in the Koningsstraat campus, though it's too small.  The trip to the Anderlecht campus with public transportation is only in a group," says Debast.

It began with one culprit, there there were three, the last time there were 8-10, mostly young North-Africans or Black-Africans, some not even 16 years old.  "The police and the municipality do what they can," says Debast, "more agents and prevention workers are patrolling.  But then the violence moves [to a different place]".

The police arrested one suspect, but he was released after interrogation.  He had an alibi.  Victims saw him a day later active as an offender.

Three suspects were arrested Monday, including two minors, all from Anderlecht.  The minors had a knife.  The adult were formally identified by the victims.  The court decided today about his fate.

It's remarkable that the youngest students, 18-19 year old, are targeted.  The older students and the teachers are left alone.  "There's more going on," thinks Debast.  He says these incidents fit with the analysis of many observers.  Criminal gangs create a climate of fear in Anderlecht, in order to keep snoopers away from their lucrative, illegal activities.

The mayor of Anderlecht, Gaëtan Van Goidsenhoven (MR), also sees it that way.  "Everything which is government, is the enemy.  Even municipal workers experience intimidation.  I hope that the court acts.  There shouldn't be impunity.  Our policemen are doing good work, they want to see the result of that."

François Debast told Le Soir that there are not enough chairs, and the students have to seat on radiators.  They're turning labs into classes, but they have no choice.  A more violent gang has recently become active.  Accoridng to the school administration, the attacks are aimed at students of European origin.

Since December, 25 attacks have been reported to the police.  "Everything began after November 21, when youth set fire to the police department in Kuregem," François Debast told

The neighboring campus of Erasmus University College hadn't noticed any incidents recently.  "We didn't hear any complaints from our students recently," says spokesperson Dorien Bouwer.  "A while back there were problems and cellphone muggings at the Delacroix metro-station, but thanks to efforts by the municipality, the police and MIVB (public transport company)(, there's no longer a problem."

Sources: De Standaard 1, 2; Brussel Nieuws (Dutch), h/t NRP

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