A large group of Muslim students attacked an LGBTQIA+ association’s stand promoting diversity in society during the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), with the incident taking place outside the Atlas College of Science and Innovation in the city of Genk in Belgium.
During the incident, the two city municipal organizers and one volunteer from the LGBTQIA+ association OGWA (Ook Genks Wel Anders) had to flee, leaving their LGBT flag behind. One of the organizers said that more and more students arrived, and at one point, there were 100 students there.
“They kept yelling, throwing bottles and spitting on the rainbow hearts. We were helped by the teachers on the playground, who supported us until the bell rang. At that point, most of the kids went back to class and calm was restored,” said the unnamed organizer, according to French newspaper Le Figaro.
A video of the incident went viral on social media, which showed the students chanting, “Allah Akbar,” as they crowded the stand.
The IDAHOT is recognized every year on May 17, with the LGBT community celebrating that in 1990, the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders. The event at Atlas College was just one held on that day.
“We then set up in the playground during break time, handing out flyers and rainbow hearts,” said one of the individuals at the stand. “Not everyone always agrees with us, but yesterday the atmosphere was very grim. A group of young people gathered around our table and started booing us.”
The city has responded with outrage.
“This behavior touches me deeply, I am disconcerted,” said the alderman for Cohabitation, Anniek Nagels (CD&V). “Genk stands for a respectful society, where everyone should be able to be themselves. Mayor Wim Dries (CD&V) announced that the city would file a complaint and consult with Atlas College.
It is unclear how many Muslims are in Belgium, as the country does not keep a census on nationality or religion. However, estimates indicate that 7.6 percent of the population is Muslim, with most living in Brussels.
This community is known for its hostility toward LGBT. In many Muslim countries, male homosexuality is illegal. For non-Muslims, they can receive a prison sentence for practicing homosexuality. However, Muslims who participate in homosexual activities can receive the death penalty under sharia law.
Belgium’s Muslim population has propagated extreme violence against gay and lesbian people for years. In 2020, a gang called “Criminal Justice” released numerous videos of their members beating LGBT people and releasing them on Telegram. Participants in the gang called for homosexuals to be slaughtered.