Officials from countries across the European Union and European Jewish leaders came together Wednesday night in Brussels to mark 30 days since the deadly attack in the Belgian capital’s Jewish Museum that claimed four lives last month.
French national Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old alleged radical Muslim whom French and Belgian authorities believe committed the murders on May 24, was arrested shortly after the shooting.
The memorial event Wednesday (video here) was attended by over 20 ambassadors to the European Union, the acting president of the European Parliament, the deputy prime minister of Belgium, the US ambassador to the EU and the head of Belgium’s Muslim community.
“We are here today pay tribute to four innocents who lost their life due to actions of one man, this act was not just against peaceful individual but an attack towards our European values,” said acting Acting President of the European Parliament Gianni Pittella.
“This reminds us that anti Semitism is still alive,” he added, adding that “the EU must eradicate anti-Semitism and xenophobia in any form” and “strive to serve all our citizens and most importantly to give our citizens to live in security.”
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the general director of the European Jewish Association, condemned the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and said it was a reality Jews in Europe “live thorough every day”
“Seventy years after the Holocaust we still need to fight,” he said.
Margolin called on European countries to recognize that the situation requires their attention and to “set up an official special authority to fight against anti Semitism, only this authority will ensure full security to all Jews, to persecute [sic] perpetrators.”
Didier Reynders, Belgium’s deputy PM and the minister for foreign affairs said that Europe has seen the “growing risk of radicalism increase in very large sections of our society,” and pledged to “work through the council of Europe to intensify the fight against hate speech and work together with European partners [to fight extremism.]”
The president of the Jewish Community of Brussels, Philippe Markiewicz, said the deadly incident did not affect just his community but all Jewish communities, adding that the “Israel-Palestine conflict” was unrelated.”
He stressed the importance of education in the fight against anti-anti-Semitism and racism.
Mr. Khalid Hajji, the President of the Conseil Européen des Oulémas Marocains, said that religion must be the basis for better communication and urged partied to come together “to build a better future.”
The attendees lit candles at the end of the event.
A French court is set to rule whether Nemmouche who is believed to have fought with jihadists in Syria last year, is to be extradited to Belgium to face trial there. His attorney said he would not oppose extradition to Belgium if Belgium promises not to extradite him to a “third country.”