The Belgian State Security Service (VSSE) has registered around 100 organisations of Salafi movement, a branch of the Sunni Islam that advocates the rule of the sharia law, local media reported on Thursday.
The Belgian government has no official data on the number of Salafi organisations in the country, De Tijd newspaper noted. Meanwhile, Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens has reportedly confirmed an increase in the number of groups and initiatives linked to the Salafi movement.
The VSSE has already drawn the government’s attention to the fact that the Salafi movement is gaining momentum in the country, with radical Islamists increasing their influence on the Muslim population of Belgium.
Salafists reject democratic institutions and promote return to the traditions of the salaf, the first three generations of Muslims. Members of the Salafi movement include purists, who avoid politics; activists, who focus on Salafi policies promotion; and jihadists, who promote armed struggle.
Belgian authorities pay significant attention to countering the spread of Salafism in the country’s mosques, since they consider it one of the reasons behind youth’ radicalisation.
Theo Francken, then-state secretary of Belgium for migration policy, announced in fall 2017 the decision to revoke residency permit from the Brussels’ Grand Mosque’s imam over his propagation of Salafism, but the court reversed the decision. Francken has said that Belgium is facing problems with “radical Islam and Salafism,” but not Islam in general.