The Corner

Salafist Suspected in Belgian Mosque Attack

Last night, a Shia mosque in Brussels was the target of an arson attack. The 46-year-old imam of the mosque died of asphyxiation during the fire. While local police say that it is still “too early” to identify motive, Shia religious officials, citing eyewitnesses, insist that the perpetrator was a Salafist. Salafism is an ultra-fundamentalist current in Sunni Islam. It is the same fundamentalist current as that embraced by al-Qaeda. Salafists regard the Shia as heretics.

The perpetrator is reported to have been apprehended by parishioners and bystanders on the scene of the crime and then turned over to the police. His identity has not been revealed. The targeted mosque was the Rida mosque in the Anderlecht neighborhood of Brussels.

According to Azzedine Laghmich, a Shia official who works at the mosque, the perpetrator set the fire with benzine at the interior of the building and then attempted to escape while yelling Salafist slogans linked to the conflict in Syria. “It’s a Salafist,” Laghmich told the Belgian press, “All the eyewitness reports make this clear.”

The minority Alawis in Syria are regarded as a branch of Shia Islam. Syrian President Bashar Assad and his family are Alawis. Salafists have played a major role in the opposition to Assad (see here, for instance), and there are numerous signs of direct involvement of al-Qaeda in the conflict.

According to Isabelle Praile, a Shia member of the Executive Board of Belgian Muslims, the Rida mosque is the most important Shia mosque in Belgium, and it already had to be placed under police protection several years ago on account of threats from Salafists.

— John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. You can follow his work at or on Facebook.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Hillary Ruins the Plan

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the first in a series of excerpts.  There really was a collusion plot. It really did target our election system. It absolutely sought to usurp our capacity for ... Read More

Another Pop-Culture Christian Loses His Faith

It’s happened again. For the second time in three weeks, a prominent (at least in Evangelical circles) Christian has renounced his faith. In July, it was Josh Harris, a pastor and author of the mega-best-selling purity-culture book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. This month, it’s Hillsong United songwriter and ... Read More

Max Boot’s Dishonesty

Before yesterday, my primary criticism of the Washington Post’s Max Boot was political in nature. As I wrote in a recent book review, I found it regrettable that Boot’s opposition to the president had not prevented him from “succumbing reactively to Trump’s cult of personality, or from making Trump the ... Read More

A Brief History of Election Meddling

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the second in a series of excerpts. ‘The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” Thus spoke President Barack Obama just a couple of weeks before ... Read More

The End of Hong Kong as We Know It

The protests in Hong Kong have been going on for more than four months now, and no matter how the current crisis concludes in the coming days or weeks, it will mark the end of Hong Kong as we know it. The protests started in response to an extradition bill that was proposed by the city’s Beijing-backed ... Read More