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Muslims suffer year of discrimination after Brussels bombings

Brussels (IINA) � A rise in Islamophobic incidents was reported as early as a month after the attacks, by Unia, Belgium's public body for equal opportunities and the fight against racism.

The fact that the attacks were carried out by young men of Muslim origin, many of them from the largely Brussels district of Molenbeek fuelled the prejudice. One year on, the problem has if anything got worse, instead of fading, activists say.

"Islamophobic acts have increased in quantity and seriousness," said Hajib El Hajjaji, of the Collective against Islamophobia in Belgium (CCIB).

Belgian Muslim teenager Ahmed is still reeling from the hostile reception he received from a teacher the first day he attended a new sports school last September.

"If you're going to set off a bomb, warn me because I have a daughter and she needs me," the Moroccan-born 16-year-old recalls the teacher telling him in front of his classmates.

The aspiring footballer's experience is an example of what rights groups say is a rise in both verbal and physical abuse directed at Belgian Muslims since suicide bombings killed 32 people and wounded hundreds more in Brussels, according to media reports.

"Deep down it hurt me, but I laughed with everybody in order not to show it," Ahmed, whose name is being withheld by AFP as he is a minor, said at his home in Brussels.

The hostile remarks have continued during his time at his school for future athletes in southern Belgium. "All that because of my origins."

This non-government organization recorded 120 Islamophobic incidents in 2016, including 36 in the month that followed the attacks.

It is noteworthy that, many victims avoid reporting such incidents partly because they have "lost confidence in the police or similar institutions.

Source: International Islamic News Agency