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BELGIAN IMAM ABDALLAH DADOU KILLED IN ARSON ATTACK

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An Imam, father-of-four Abdallah Dadou (pic), has been killed in a fire at a Shiaa Mosque in the Brussels suburb of Anderlecht, on Monday 03/12/2012 night, in what is believed to have been a deliberate attack. The mayor of Anderlecht Vincent Van Goidsenhoven was quoted by local media as saying the suspect had thrown a petrol bomb at the Mosque on Monday evening (see also – Brussels 03.08.10). Police in Belgium said the man, detained after Mosque personnel trapped him inside the building, apparently used fuel to set fire to the Rida Mosque near Brussels’ international rail hub. Police were unable to immediately name the suspect as he lacked identity papers, but authorities said the man described himself as a Muslim born in 1978. Authorities are investigating his motives and whether he had accomplices.

“It seemed that this person showed up and pulled out a knife and an axe, and that he spread flammable products, petrol we assume, in order to start a fire and threaten the people attending the mosque” Jean-Marc Meilleur, of Brussels’ prosecutor’s office, later said.

Initial reports say Imam  Abdallah Dadou, 47, died of smoke inhalation and that one other person was injured. “A suspect was taken into custody at the scene,” police spokeswoman Marie Verbeke told the AFP news agency on Monday. She said the victim apparently died of smoke inhalation. “The mosque was apparently almost entirely burned down.”

“A dozen worshippers were waiting to pray when someone entered with a bag,” eyewitness Azzedine Laghmish told national broadcaster RTBF. “Inside there was a container full of petrol which he threw into the centre of the room”, Azzedine Laghmish said. “The fire took hold very quickly. The imam tried to put it out but he found himself stuck in a room”, he added. Local media reports say dozens of local people have gathered near the Mosque. Azzedine Laghmish also told AFP the attacker was “a Salafist,” who sprayed petrol inside the mosque before setting it alight and shouting Sunni slogans on his way out — cries related to the conflict in Syria (see – Homs Massacre).

Belgian Interior Minister Joelle Milquet said she was “very shocked by the events that have occurred.”

Isabelle Praile, a senior official in Belgium’s organised Muslim community, said the Rida Mosque “had already been placed under police protection several years ago,” citing direct threats from members of the ultra-conservative Sunni Salafist movement (see – Salafiya ).* The last time a Muslim preacher was targeted in Brussels was in 1989 when Saudi-born Abdullah Muhammad al-Ahdal was shot dead a man inside the city’s main Mosque. His killing was claimed by a small pro-Iranian group in Lebanon who accussed him of being too moderate and of having rejected the “death sentence” slapped on writer Salman Rushdie (see also – ABYSS IN ISLAM ) .

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* The suspect, a self-described Muslim in his mid-30s, told investigators he sought to “scare” the Shia community as it was allegedly responsible for Syria’s crackdown on dissent, the public prosecutor’s office said. 

 

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