Belgium's Molenbeek seeks to restore tarnished image

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.


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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