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Belgium's Molenbeek seeks to restore tarnished image

By: Joao LEITE | Kattalin LANDABURU | Méabh MCMAHON
2 min

In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, the working-class district of Molenbeek, in the suburbs of the Belgian capital Brussels, was blamed. As the days passed, the investigation confirmed that a "Molenbeek cell" was involved in the planning and execution of France's worst ever terrorist attacks, in which 130 people were killed and hundreds more injured.

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The investigation revealed that four of the nine Paris attackers were of Belgian origin, including the ringleader of the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was on a terror watchlist and wanted in Belgium. Since mid-November, eleven people have been arrested and charged in Belgium. A key suspect, Salah Abdeslam, and his friend Mohamed Abrini, still at large, are both from Molenbeek.

But for the vast majority of the district’s residents, would-be jihadists and recruiters are a minority and the neighbourhood is above all a "big family". A few weeks after the Paris attacks, original initiatives emerged to try to show visitors a different side of Molenbeek. Our team in Brussels reports.

A programme prepared by Patrick Lovett, Anna Kowalska, Aline Schmidt and Claire Pryde

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