Belgian MP Calls into Question Relations with Saudi Arabia

November 23, 2015

In several press interviews, Belgian MP Dirk Van der Maelen (Socialist, opposition) who currently heads the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Belgian House of Representatives and is otherwise known for having sent letters to members of the U.S. Congress to reenact the Glass-Steagall Act, has called on the Belgian government to thoroughly review its diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia.

"After the bombings in Paris, questions are increasingly raised about the financing of terrorism by Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia," writes the Flemish daily De Standaard. The paper then quotes Van der Maelen saying:

"The fact that Belgium maintains friendly relations with countries which follow and finance the worldwide spread of Wahhabism, a current of radical Islam, is irresponsible.... You can't have a credible policy of de-radicalization [of youth] while at the same time signing economic treaties with governments backing extreme groups. Furthermore, we have long known that Saudi Arabia violates labor and human rights. Therefore, time has come to review these economic relations."

It should be noted that in the center of Brussels, not far from the EU Commission, Saudi Arabia has been financing since 1967 the Belgian Islamic Center (Centre Islamique de Belgique), a huge center for propagating Wahhabism.

According to diplomatic cables disclosed by WikiLeaks, the Saudi Ambassador in Brussels reported that in 2012, the Belgian Foreign Ministry and Belgian State Security asked him to repatriate Khalid Alabri, radical Imam of the Great Mosque of Brussels, the country's largest mosque, because of his extremist and potentially dangerous speeches. Under Belgian pressure, Alibri finally was sent back to Riyadh on April 14, 2012.

"Behind this," says Felice Dassetto, a sociologist at the University of Louvain, "the Muslim World League has a strategic objective developed by the Saudis since the 1960s which is to become the hegemonic pole of the Islamic world."

Another key factor is that close to half of firearms and munitions exported to the Middle East are produced in Belgium, reported the Flemish weekly Knack on Oct. 13. Belgian firearms exported to Saudi Arabia show up repeatedly in Libya and Syria; some of the weapons used by the terror squad that hit the Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris on Jan. 7, 2015, were produced by the notorious Belgian firm Fabrique Nationale.