Belgium pushes to expel controversial Palestinian activist ‘hate preacher’

Mohammed Khatib leads Palestinian group already banned in Germany for its actions praising and celebrating Hamas’s October 7 attacks

Demonstrators hold signs and wave flags during a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel rally in Brussels on January 21, 2024. (AP/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Demonstrators hold signs and wave flags during a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel rally in Brussels on January 21, 2024. (AP/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Belgium’s government on Monday said it wanted to revoke the refugee status of the head of a network supporting Palestinian prisoners, whom it accused of being an “extremist hate preacher.”

Mohammed Khatib is the coordinator in Europe for Samidoun, a controversial organization close to Palestinian Islamist groups that was banned in neighboring Germany after allegedly celebrating the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel.

Belgium’s Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Nicole de Moor, announced that she had asked the immigration services to withdraw the refugee status of Khatib, whom she said was “known as an extremist hate preacher.”

“The asylum procedure is intended for people fleeing war or unjust persecution. There is no place for people who represent a danger to society,” she said.

“Even if someone has already been recognized as a refugee, if that person turns out to be an extremist, recognition can be withdrawn.”

De Moor said the request was based on “information provided by the security services,” without giving any further details.

In March, lawmakers in the neighboring Netherlands criticized their government for not preventing Khatib from attending a rally in the country.

Samidoun describes itself as a network that “builds solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners’ movement and its struggle for freedom.”

In November, Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Faeser announced she was dissolving the German branch of the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, which she said “supports and glorifies” groups including Hamas.

Samidoun was behind an October 7 action in which a group of people handed out pastries in a Berlin street in celebration of Hamas’s attack.

A man walks by a sticker on a building during a pro-Palestinian rally in Brussels on January 21, 2024. (AP/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

That same day, Samidoun published a “Calendar of Resistance for Palestine” on its website, with links to celebratory events around the world and a call for “all Palestinian, Arab, and international supporters of Palestine to escalate their organizing and struggle to stand with the heroic Palestinian resistance and confront colonial Zionist violence and imperialist complicity.”

The war in Gaza erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel by land, air, and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, mostly civilians.

Vowing to destroy Hamas and return the hostages, Israel launched a wide-scale offensive in Gaza that the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry says has killed at least 33,729 Palestinians, mostly women and children. These figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. Israel says it has killed more than 13,000 terrorists inside Gaza and a further 1,000 in Israel on October 7.

The IDF says 260 soldiers have been killed in the ground operation in Gaza since October 7.

Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report

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