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In Belgium, sects left unattended

The weakness of the intelligence services offers an avenue for sectarian organizations in the midst of a period of crisis.



The weakness of the intelligence services offers an avenue for sectarian organizations in the midst of a period of crisis.

From our correspondent Max HELLEFF (Brussels) – Belgium is considered to be a nest of spies focused on industry and on international institutions established in Brussels. Historically, it is also at the crossroads of movements that have engaged in terrorist activities in the past such as Gia, Eta and more recently Daesh. This unpleasant picture must be supplemented by sects which, obviously, have not given up visiting the kingdom.

In the 90s, some 189 more or less suspicious organizations, at odds between sects and religions, had been listed. A Center for Information and Advice on Harmful Sectarian Organizations (CIAOSN) had been created. Since then, he has worked with the prosecution, the federal police and the intelligence services. State Security, for its part, is responsible for collecting information on the organizations concerned.

However, this shield no longer seems to be sufficient. “Seven days a week, citizens come to us with testimonies or requests for information,” comments Kerstine Vanderput, director of the Ciaosn center. For her, “people are in need, some are going through horrible situations. The danger still exists ”.

The concern is all the greater since in France a report has just been presented by Miviludes, the interministerial mission for vigilance and the fight against sectarian aberrations. It can be read that “the health crisis has caused an increase in practices likely to engender sectarian aberrations, without the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic still being able to be fully measured (…) in view of the time required for the implementation of the control process (…) ”.

Conspiracyists, Survivalists and Co

But it is also pointed out in the report that, in the religious field, “the renewed activity of the apocalyptic currents, which see in the pandemic a sign and a confirmation of the eminence of the end times, is notable. The impact that these simplistic and authoritarian speeches can have on people isolated or distressed by the crisis could generate new referrals in the months to come ”.

Specifically pointed out are Qanon (a far-right conspiracy movement from the United States), survivalists and followers of collapsology. They take advantage of the psychological insecurity generated by the health crisis to extend their influence through social networks.

But what about Belgium where the intelligence services have been caught up in the fight against terrorism since 2015? “We are not far from nothingness”, regrets the Socialist parliamentarian André Frédéric in the columns of the Evening. “Since 2015, the State Security, of which it was one of the missions, no longer investigates sectarian movements. It focuses its resources on terrorism. Ditto for the police ”. As for Committee R, the body responsible for monitoring the activities and functioning of the State Security and the General Intelligence Service, it underlines the insufficient exchange of information on sects.

Finally, it is important to remember that in 2017, an infanticide drew the attention of the authorities to the proliferation of evangelical churches in Belgium. The murderer was one of them. For about twenty years, these churches have experienced a certain boom linked, in particular, to the migratory phenomenon. Among them, “serious” organizations linked to religious practice. But also a number of sectarian associations which would require top-level surveillance if the means were there.


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