Last week, a video went viral of a group of migrant youths beating two victims in Leuven, Belgium, after which they forced a White teenage boy to apologize and lick their shoes. In the video, the word ‘Zemmel’ is heard, which is a slur that Moroccans commonly use for gay people.
An investigation by Het Laatste Nieuws found that the video is a connected to a gang of youths called “Criminal Justice“ or “Criminal System”, which the paper says is hunting young LGBT people in Belgium.
Arabische jongeren verwijten Vlaamse, blanke jongen een ‘zemmel’ te zijn… Arabische ‘slang’ voor een sukkel, een homo… De Vlaamse jongen moet zich verontschuldigen anders wordt hij in mekaar geslagen… #AntiVlaamsRacisme pic.twitter.com/ODvCAEK3XU
— Filip Dewinter (@FDW_VB) August 13, 2020
They communicate through a Telegram group chat of 600 members with a sole goal: to beat up young members of the LGBT community, film these attacks, and share the images.
After Het Laatste Nieuws gained access to their group communication chats, the video from last week is apparently just one of many disturbing videos.
The images were circulating withing a chat group on Telegram app called “Criminal Justice“. The same name could also be seen displayed in the video from Leuven, Belgium. According to Sceptr, the chat group mostly contains Chechens, and they explicitly glorify violence against gay people with hundreds of videos.
In addition, members are encouraged to actively search online for people who in their view deserve a beating, with members of the LGBT community a particularly popular target.
Death threats in chat say that gays must be slaughtered
Criminal Justice also reportedly has an Instagram page, but the Telegram group has the most members. About 400 videos and photos have been shared between 600 memnbers, and explicit violence is central to all of them.
In addition to images taken from the internet, members have recorded videos in the Belgium cities of Blankenberge, Antwerp, Roeselare, and Leuven.
Messages that HLN was able to obtain show that group members consciously look for young LGBT people with whom they make contact through the chat functions of TikTok and Instagram. Then they physically track them down via their IP addresses or through other identifying information.
According to the newspaper’s information, the gang is not afraid to use knives and firearms when approaching their victims. Death threats are also being made in the chat with someone writing, “Gays must be slaughtered.“
“I had to get on my knees and apologize. What if I hadn’t?“
There is remarkably little willingness to speak out among the young victims, yet HLN recorded testimony from one young man from Antwerp. He says that he was chased and threatened together with a friend at Groenplaats in Antwerp.
“A little further down the road from us, two men were playing loud music. When we left, they suddenly started to chase us. And a little later I was threatened via Instagram. I agreed to talk to them, which I shouldn’t have done. They threatened me badly. I had to get on my knees and apologize. What if I hadn’t? Then I would have been beaten badly.”
The perpetrators’ modus operandi is remarkably similar to brutal beating from the video in Leuven. There, too, the video seems to serve as a kind of “hunting trophy” and is shared via social media.
The witness from Antwerp believes that the group managers deliberately incite young people to commit aggression.
Victim forced to lick attacker’s shoes or else
The video from Leuwan is believed to have been an attack on gay teenagers or what the attackers believed to be gay teenagers based on chat records obtained by Het Laatste Nieuws. The facts of the case are still being investigated by the public prosecutor of Leuven. According to the newspaper, the victim from Antwerp did not file a complaint.
Het Laatste Nieuws also placed the video of the anonymous victim from Antwerp online today. It shows how a boy is forced to his knees where he has to lick the shoes of one of the perpetrators twice. Then he gets another punch in the face.