Czech president: Radical Islam behind Brussels museum shooting

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — The President of the Czech Republic blamed Islamist ideology for the Brussels Jewish museum murders.

President Milos Zeman made the statement last week, before the capture in Marseille on Friday of a suspect whom French authorities said had fought with jihadists in Syria and may be tied to the May 24 murder of four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in central Brussels.

“I will not be reassured by claims that these are the actions of small fringe groups,” Zeman said at the Prague Hilton on May 26 about the shootings, which he called “abominable acts of murder.” He added: “I believe, by contrast, that this xenophobia, racism or anti-Semitism are at the very nature of this ideology, on which these fanatical groups rely.”

Zeman, who is known for his support for Israel, was speaking at an event celebrating the 66th anniversary of Israel’s independence. He offered his listeners “proof of this assertion” in a quote from Kitab Al-Fitan wa Ashrat As-Sa’ah, the 41st book of Sahih Muslim, which is one of the major texts of Sunni Islam.

“The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,” the verse reads.

“There is a term called political correctness, and this term may be a euphemism for political cowardice, so let me not be cowardly,” said Zeman. “We should clearly name the enemy of human civilization, and this enemy is international terrorism coupled with religious fundamentalism and religious intolerance. This fanaticism does not focus on a single state, as we saw after 9/11. Muslim fanatics in Nigeria recently captured 200 young Christian girls.”

“I know of no movement that calls for massive slaughter of Arabs, but I do know of an anti-civilization movement that calls for massive extermination of the Jews,” Zeman added, according to a transcription of his speech that was posted on May 27 on Zeman’s official website.

On May 30, French police in Marseille arrested a 29-year-old man whom they identified as Mehdi Nemmouche. Sources familiar with the investigation told the AFP news agency he arrived in Marseille aboard a bus that passed through Brussels on its way from Amsterdam and had an AK-47 assault rifle and a handgun in his luggage.

On May 24, an unidentified shooter killed four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in central Brussels with a handgun and what appeared to be an AK-47.

Nemmouche, who lives in a French border city situated 55 miles south of Brussels, is believed to have fought in Syria with jihadists last year, AFP reported, and is being held on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.