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by Thomas Landen
It is hot in Brussels. Ramadan has begun. The faithful in the predominantly Muslim borough of Molenbeek are not allowed to eat or drink from sunrise until sunset. Non-Muslim policemen, patrolling the streets of Molenbeek in their sweltering cars, are not allowed to eat or drink either. As every year during Ramadan, that they have been told by their superior, Philippe Moureaux, the Socialist mayor of Molenbeek, they have to respect Muslim sensitivities and not to "provoke" Muslims by violating Islamic Ramadan restrictions in public. In effect, Islamic or Sharia law is already applied - for everyone - in the Muslim areas of Brussels.
Barely two miles from Molenbeek lies Brussels' European district. One of its huge glass and concrete buildings is the European Parliament where the elected representatives from the 27 members states of the European Union (EU) convene. The 736 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) have just returned from their summer break. They are mostly unaware of life in Molenbeek. Most of them never go to that part of the city. It is probably a sensible decision, because Molenbeek is known to be unsafe for non-Muslims. Nevertheless, it is a shame that Europe's politicians are unaware of day-to-day life just around the corner. It means that most of the 736 MEPs, who make up the second largest democratically elected assembly in the world (after India), do not know what life really is like in an ever growing section of Europe's urban areas. A walking tour of Molenbeek should be compulsory for every MEP.
Some friends in Brussels organize one-hour trips through Molenbeek. They go in an inconspicuous car, driven by a local who knows the escape routes, and with a bodyguard. Otherwise the risk would be too great. These trips are called "safaris." Similar "Eurabia Safaris" are organized in other European cities. One of the highlights - though absolutely not the most dangerous one - of the safari in Rosengaard, the Muslim section of the Swedish city of Malmö, is a short stop, to give the visitor the opportunity to take a quick snapshot, in front of Malmö's "Jihads k örkortsteori" (Jihad Driving School).
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