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Belgium removes imam’s residence from largest mosque over security concerns

The Belgian government has withdrawn the residence permit of the chief imam of the Al Khalil Grand Mosque in Molenbeek Mohamed Toujgani due to concerns over national security issues.

Belgian Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Sammy Mahdi, announced this week that the government had withdrawn Imam Toujgani’s residence permit in light of concerns raised by the country’s security services that claimed that the imam showed signs of serious risk to Belgian national security.

The government gave Toujgani, a Moroccan national, formal notice to leave the country and told him that he would not be allowed to return to Belgium for the next ten years. According to Belgian media, the imam has already left the country, reports Sudinfo.

As the imam of the biggest mosque in the whole country, Toujgani – who had been in Belgium since 1982 – was considered very influential in the Muslim community in Brussels.

He was reportedly a controversial figure for years, preaching for the burning of “oppressive Zionists” in 2009.

Although he had lived in the country for decades, Toujgani had never bothered to learn to speak French or Dutch, the two main languages ​​spoken in Belgium.

State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, Mahdi, commented on the issue saying, “In the past, we have given radical preachers too much leeway. This man was probably the most influential preacher in Belgium. With this decision, we are making a difference and sending a clear signal: we will not tolerate those who divide and threaten our national security.

The Brussels district of Molenbeek has been known for years as a hotbed of radical Islamist extremism throughout Europe. This is where Salah Abdeslam, a participant in the Paris Bataclan terrorist attack in 2015, fled after his suicide belt failed to explode.

Abdeslam, who is currently on trial in France for the Bataclan massacre, said in September that the terrorists and jihadists were “authentic Muslims” and told families of the victims that the attack was “nothing personal”.

In recent years, raids have led to the arrest of radical Islamist extremists in Molenbeek, including last July when a jihadist wanted by Spanish authorities was arrested in the area.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or by email at ctomlinson(at)


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