Shadowing the Police in Belgium's Hotbed of Extremism

Mar 22, 2016

In a year marred by European terror attacks, one Belgian neighborhood has gained a reputation as a breeding ground for Islamic extremism.

Molenbeek, a suburb of Brussels, is where at least four of the extremists who launched a deadly series of attacks in Paris in November grew up. The neighborhood has also been linked to the 2015 French train attack, which was broken up by passengers; the 2014 attack on the Jewish museum in Belgium; and the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

Salah Abdeslam, the last living suspect in the Paris attacks, also grew up in Molenbeek — and was captured there last week. Just four days later, Brussels came under attack again, when dozens were killed in a series of bombings claimed by ISIS.

In 2011, Sebastien Van Malleghem, a Belgian photographer, visited Molenbeek for a project on law and order. His images, which were shot as Van Malleghem shadowed local police officers, offer a stark look inside the community and its relationship with law enforcement.

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