Category : Belgium

(Commentary) Sohrab Ahmari–When ‘Freethinkers’ Persecute the Faithful: Soft totalitarianism

The State Department on Tuesday released its annual International Religious Freedom Report, and the grim upshot was that people of faith face persecution around the globe. This year’s report, the first under President Trump, called out usual suspects such as China, Iran, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia. It also notably used the “G” word–genocide–to describe Islamic State’s crimes against Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq.

Authoritarian regimes and jihadists aren’t the only ones who mete out anti-religious repression these days. Nominally free societies, particularly in Europe, are increasingly guilty of it as well. Yet because it is less visible, carried out by governments with impeccable liberal credentials, such persecution receives far less attention, including in the State report.

Consider tiny Belgium, which has been roiling with controversy this month over whether Catholic hospitals can be required to permit euthanasia on their premises. Belgium’s pro-euthanasia lobby and its political and media allies seek to bring to heel the country’s last bastion of opposition, the Roman Church.

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Posted in Belgium, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

(CNS) Belgian brothers to allow euthanasia for nonterminal psych patients

A group of psychiatric care centers run by a Catholic religious order in Belgium has announced it will permit doctors to undertake the euthanasia of “nonterminal” mentally ill patients on its premises.

In a nine-page document, the Brothers of Charity Group stated that it would allow doctors to perform euthanasia in any of its 15 centers, which provide care to more than 5,000 patients a year, subject to carefully stipulated criteria.

Br. Rene Stockman, the superior general, has distanced himself from the decision of the group’s largely lay board of directors, however, and has told Belgian media that the policy was a tragedy.

“We cannot accept that euthanasia is carried out within the walls of our institutions,” said Stockman, a specialist in psychiatric care, in an April 27 interview with De Morgen newspaper in Brussels.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Belgium, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Roman Catholic

Michael Avramovich–With What Happened in Belgium recently, Modern Europe Died

Now we have come full circle. It was widely reported on Saturday that a terminally ill 17-year-old became the first minor to be officially euthanized in Belgium since age restrictions on euthanasia were lifted in 2014. Jacqueline Herremans, a member of Belgium’s federal euthanasia commission (death panel?), said in a French media report, “The euthanasia has taken place.” She further announced that the euthanasia was done “in accordance with Belgian law.” Few details were provided other than the minor child had “a terminal illness.” Belgium is presently the only country in the world that allows terminally-ill children of any age to choose to end their life, but Belgian law requires that the minor be capable of making “rational decisions.” Further, any request for euthanasia must be made by the minor, be studied by a team of doctors, approved by an independent psychiatrist or psychologist, and have parental consent. The only thing missing is the 1,700 special courts and 27 higher courts to give their legal authorization . . . always within the law, of course. The Netherlands also allows mercy killings for children, but only for those aged over 12. Lord, have mercy!

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Belgium, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Theology

Child euthanasia in Belgium " wicked and damnable" says Archbishop Cranmer Blog

With children it is usually cancer: incurable sickness, unbearable pain, debilitating, degrading misery. What child wouldn’t prefer to go an be with Jesus? Belgium’s Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia (it’s a thing) agrees. Far better for children to be given a fatal injection than to cough up blood all night long, whether or not they go to be with Jesus. Indeed, Jesus doesn’t really come into it. Why should he? We’re talking about the exercise of free will for the alleviation of unbearable physical suffering. It is liberal, progressive and compassionate. A child could understand it, especially at the age of 17.

Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002, and now injects people whether or not they are suffering a terminal illness. If you’re depressed and feeling suicidal for no particular reason at all, Belgium will provide a way out. They extended euthanasia to children in 2014. It is the only country in the world that has no age restriction. At least in the Netherlands you have to be 12 years of age before you can decide you’d prefer to be with Jesus than all those nasty doctors and nurses. In Belgium, the Federal Control and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia can give their blessing to your death if you’re 10, eight, six”¦ provided you’re in unbearable physical pain and know what you’re doing.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child”¦ (1Cor 13:11).

One hesitates to use the word ”˜evil’ of statutes promulgated by well-intentioned politicians in the context of a liberal democracy, with all the constitutional checks and balances afforded by reason and experience. But Belgium’s abolition of all age restrictions on “the right to die” must surely qualify as one of the most wicked and damnable decrees in the history of Christendom.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Belgium, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Economist) Religious leaders grapple with doctor-assisted dying

It is just the latest intervention by Christian figures in political debates on the matter. Jozef De Kesel, the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels in Belgium, which has the world’s most liberal assisted-dying laws, suggested in January that the country’s church-run hospitals should be allowed to opt out of helping patients end their lives. And in June Pope Francis said to a group of Spanish and Latin American doctors that “true compassion does not marginalise anyone, nor does it humiliate and exclude, much less considers the disappearance of a person as a good thing.” He cautioned against a “throwaway culture that rejects and dismisses those who do not comply with certain canons of health, beauty and utility.” Life is sacred, he added, and should shine “with greater splendour precisely in suffering and helplessness”.

Research shows that religious people are more likely than the non-religious to oppose assisted dying. But there is wide variation between faiths. A survey of Britons, carried out by YouGov in 2013, found that only three in ten Muslims felt the law should be changed to allow close friends and relatives to help people with incurable diseases take their own lives, should they wish to do so. Around half of Hindus and Sikhs surveyed agreed, and six in ten Catholics, Methodists, Baptists and Buddhists. Seven in ten Jews, and 77% of Anglicans, supported such a change in the law. For comparison, 85% of people who claimed no faith were in favour of legalising assisted dying.

Some Anglican leaders are starting to shift their positions. The general synod of the Anglican church in Canada, where doctor-assisted dying was recently legalised, has written guidance on the issue for its congregation. Though it does not go as far as to support doctor-assisted dying, it does not oppose its legalisation, either. “The societal and legal context within which the pastoral and prophetic ministry of the church takes place has shifted,” it notes.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Provinces, Belgium, Canada, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

(WSJ) ISIS Executioner Linked to Belgian Arrestees

An Islamic State executioner from Belgium who announced the group’s responsibility for the March 22 terror attacks in Brussels was communicating recently with several young Belgians arrested this week for plotting further attacks, according to officials briefed on the probe.

Four adults and several teenagers were arrested in and around the northern Belgian city of Antwerp on Wednesday after authorities intercepted their communications with Islamic State operative Hicham Chaib, the official said. While Belgian authorities officially acknowledged they arrested four adults on Wednesday, they wouldn’t comment on the minors.

Belgian authorities found evidence that the group had plans to strike densely populated targets, including the central train station of Antwerp, but investigators doubt that those plans were fleshed out. “It’s better to have a less strong judicial file than a terror attack,” the official said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Belgium, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Reuters) Belgium sees signs that ISIS has sent more fighters to Europe

There are signs that more Islamic State inspired militants have been sent to Belgium and Europe, Belgian authorities said on Tuesday, maintaining the country’s threat status at the second-highest level.

Belgium’s alert level was cut to three from the maximum of four just two days after the March 22 attacks which killed 32 people at the airport and on the metro in Brussels. It has remained at that level since.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Belgium, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Islam, Other Faiths, Terrorism, Theology

(NYT) How a Brussels mentor taught "gangster Islam" to the young and angry

He lived under the rafters in a small attic apartment in the Molenbeek district of Brussels, and became known to some followers as the Santa Claus of jihad. He had the bushy beard and potbelly, and generously offered money and advice to young Muslims eager to fight in Syria and Somalia, or to wreak havoc in Europe.

When the Belgian police seized the computer of the man, Khalid Zerkani, in 2014, they found a trove of extremist literature, including tracts titled “Thirty-Eight Ways to Participate in Jihad” and “Sixteen Indispensable Objects to Own Before Going to Syria.” In July, Belgian judges sentenced him to 12 years in prison for participating in the activities of a terrorist organization, and declared him the “archetype of a seditious mentor” who spread “extremist ideas among naïve, fragile and agitated youth.”

But only in the months since then has the full scale of Mr. Zerkani’s diligent work on the streets of Molenbeek and beyond become clear, as the network he helped nurture has emerged as a central element in attacks in both Paris and Brussels ”” as well as one in France that the authorities said last month they had foiled.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Belgium, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Young Adults

Alan Jacobs–on seeing and naming the dead (a kind of Good Friday meditation)

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Belgium, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Holy Week, Nigeria, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(AP) ISIS trains 400 fighters to attack Europe in wave of bloodshed

The Islamic State group has trained at least 400 fighters to target Europe in deadly waves of attacks, deploying interlocking terror cells like the ones that struck Brussels and Paris with orders to choose the time, place and method for maximum carnage, officials have told The Associated Press.

The network of agile and semiautonomous cells shows the reach of the extremist group in Europe even as it loses ground in Syria and Iraq. The officials, including European and Iraqi intelligence officials and a French lawmaker who follows the jihadi networks, described camps in Syria, Iraq and possibly the former Soviet bloc where attackers are trained to attack the West. Before being killed in a police raid, the ringleader of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks claimed he had entered Europe in a multinational group of 90 fighters, who scattered “more or less everywhere.”

But the biggest break yet in the Paris attacks investigation ”” the arrest on Friday of fugitive Salah Abdeslam”” did not thwart the multipronged attack just four days later on the Belgian capital’s airport and metro that left 31 people dead and an estimated 270 wounded. Three suicide bombers also died.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Belgium, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Nabeel Qureshi–The Quran's deadly role in inspiring the Belgian slaughter

This is not at all to say that most Muslims are violent. The vast majority of Muslims do not live their lives based on chapter 9 of the Quran or on the books of jihad in the hadith. My point is not to question the faith of such Muslims nor to imply that radical Muslims are the true Muslims. Rather, I simply want to make clear that while ISIL may lure youth through a variety of methods, it radicalizes them primarily by urging them to follow the literal teachings of the Quran and the hadith, interpreted consistently and in light of the violent trajectory of early Islam. As long as the Islamic world focuses on its foundational texts, we will continue to see violent jihadi movements.

In order to effectively confront radicalization, then, our tools must be similarly ideological, even theological. This is why I suggest that sharing alternative worldviews with Muslims is one of the best methods to address radicalization. Indeed, this is what happened to me. As I faced the reality of the violent traditions of Islam, I had a Christian friend who suggested that Islam did not have to be my only choice and that there were excellent reasons to accept the gospel.

As more and more Western Muslims encounter ISIL’s claims and the surprising violence in their own tradition, many will be looking for ways out of the moral quandary this poses for them. We need to be equipped to provide alternatives to violent jihad, alternatives that address the root of why so many Muslims are radicalizing in the first place. Any solution, political or otherwise, that overlooks the spiritual and religious roots of jihad can have only limited effectiveness.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Belgium, Europe, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(C of E) A Prayer for Brussels

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Belgium, Europe, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(FT) Rafaello Pantucci-The Brussels attacks show that terrorists can strike at will

The first questions raised will focus on Belgium’s response to the problem on their home ground. Authorities may have scored a victory by capturing Salah Abdeslam, one of the Isis-aligned plotters linked to the Paris attacks, but they missed a network planning an atrocity with heavy weapons and explosives. This suggests gaps in the understanding and surveillance of the terrorist threat. Given that Brussels sits at the political heart of Europe, this points to a problem that can no longer be described as Belgian alone.

While for some the terrorist atrocities in Paris was a wake-up call, for security forces it had been expected for a while. Terrorist groups, from al-Qaeda to Isis, have long sought to launch a terrorist attack in the style of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and a string of plots have been disrupted or launched from a francophone network emanating from Brussels. The Paris attack was the realisation of these fears from a depressingly predictable place.

The networks of radicalised individuals with links to Isis have grown as the group continues to hold sway on the battlefield and send back people and plots to their original bases in western Europe. Given the tempo of attacks and the ease with which the networks appear able to acquire weapons and move freely around the continent, Europeans will ask themselves how much longer they will face this threat. I

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Belgium, Europe, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(BBC) Brussels Zaventem airport and metro explosions 'kill at least 13'

Two blasts tore through the departures area of Zaventem airport shortly after 08:00 local time (07:00 GMT).

An hour later, an explosion hit Maalbeek metro station, close to the EU institutions. The airport and whole transport system have been closed.

The attacks come four days after Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive in the Paris attacks, was seized in Brussels.

The Belgian government has confirmed casualties at the airport but has given no numbers. The cause of the explosions is unknown.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Belgium, Europe, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

(WSJ) Belgium Unveils Plan to Combat Islamist Radicalization

The Belgian government, reacting to the major role terrorists from Brussels played in the Paris terror attacks, unveiled a program Friday to combat Islamist radicalization in and around the city.

The plans include the hiring of 1,000 new police officers across the country by 2019, with 300 of them added this year and deployed in eight municipalities in the Brussels region.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the additional police force in Brussels would focus on cutting off revenue sources for extremist groups by countering illicit trade in arms, drugs and false travel documents. Brussels police will also increase the monitoring of places of worship known for extremist preaching, he said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Belgium, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence