Belgian report lists Erdoğan’s brand of Islamism as a primary threat

Belgium’s State Security Service (VSSE) in its annual report has listed Islamism - including forms promoted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) - as one of the primary threats the country is facing, Christophe Lamfalussy wrote for the Belgian La Libre on Wednesday.

The VSSE considers religious extremism to be one of the three main threats, along with the rise of right-wing extremism and an increasing number of Chinese military students in Belgian universities.

According to the report, Madhkhalism, a strain of Salafist thought based on the teachings of Saudi scholar Rabee al-Madkhali that is in line with the Muslim Brotherhood, designated a terrorist organisation in several Arab states, has been spreading in Belgium, along with Turkish Islamism.

The report also states that the husband of Muriel Degauque, the first European female suicide bomber, is associated with the Madhkalist movement. This strain of Islamist thought condemns Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Qaeda, but does not reject the idea of a jihad that will be called by a political authority.

The movement is totalitarian, racist and anti-democratic, according to the report, because it seeks to isolate individuals and their families from the general public in Belgium. It is considered a “severe threat to coexistence”. Male members of the group sport full beards and Islamic dress-type garb, while female members wear jilbabs that cover the whole body except for the face, or niqabs that partially cover the face as well, it found.

The AKP wishes to Islamise society through political means, and stands close to the Muslim Brotherhood in the brand of Turkish Islamism it and Erdoğan has championed, the report said.

There has been an “increasingly marked removal of ideological boundaries” among the Diyanet Foundation, tied to Turkey’s top religious body Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), various Islamic cults, and Islamist political movements like the National Viewpoint (which the AKP’s founders had broken away from), it said.

The National Viewpoint ideology, which was once condemned by the Diyanet Foundation as extremist, has increased its reach in Belgian Turkish society via projects implemented in schools by the Belgium Islamic Federation, VSSE found.

VSSE also said that the Muslim Brotherhood has continued a campaign of infiltration in Belgium’s political parties, and worked to support candidates that favour Islamic dress codes.