Belgium: Brussels, European capital…of Muslim Brotherhood!

Belgium has two main poles linked to the Muslim Bortherhood’s movement, around which a number of local associations and satellite organisations gravitate. But, the European capital is also coveted by several pan-European organisations of the Brotherhood whose main activity is lobbying the European institutions.

As the capital of the European Union, Brussels is a very coveted hub for Muslim Brotherhood’s networks. Three of the six pan-European organisations of the Brotherhood hold their headquarters here: the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO), the European Forum of Muslim Women (EFOMW) and the European Muslim Network (EMN). 

Their establishment in Belgium is not fortuitous, since it allows them to lobby the European institutions, as well as to join the many Belgian and pan-European NGOs, such as the European Network on Religion and Belief (ENORB) or the Humanist Democratic Center (HDC).

As for the local networks of the Belgian Muslim Brotherhood, they are structured around two main poles. One is based in Brussels, the other in Verviers.

The League of Muslims in Belgium (LMB) has its headquarters in the capital and is present in four other cities: Liege, Antwerp, Ghent, and Verviers. Created in 2005, LMB quickly established itself as the most representative organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Belgium. Currently chaired by Karim Azzouzi, it maintains very close links with its French alter-ego Muslims of France (former UIOF), whose organisational structure and working patterns it adopts. 

This is illustrated, in particular, by outreach work based on the federation of a multitude of local and regional associations. And by the assiduous effort of preaching, especially through the organisation of Islamic meetings, symposiums and fairs. 

The second main pole of the Belgian Muslim Brotherhood is the Educative and Cultural Islamic Complex of Verviers (ECICV). Created in 2004 by the German Islamist Hassan Sawaid, it runs the Assahaba Mosque and a socio-cultural centre attached to it. 

ECICV has long been led by Michael Privot, one of the leading intellectual figures of Belgian Islamism. After officially claiming his membership in the Muslim Brotherhood in 2008, Privot dissented, with a bang, in 2012. Five years later, he recounted the experience of his indoctrination within the Brotherhood in an autobiographical book entitled Quand j’étais Frère musulman (see the box below).  

Satellite organisations 

Around these two main poles of the Belgian Muslim Brotherhood, several satellite organisations gravitate. The most influential are the Collective against Islamophobia in Belgium (CCIB), based in Brussels and chaired by Mustapha Chairi, Empowering Belgian Muslims (EmBeM), based in Genk and led by Fatima Zibouh, the Belgian Association of Muslim Professionals (ABPM), which has become since 2018 Active Diversity Entrepreneurs (LEAD), based in Brussels and chaired by Taoufik Amzile, and the women association All Equal in Work and at Scools (also known as Collectif TETE), based in Brussels and managed by Farida Tahar.