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Brussels Jewish museum reopens

September 14, 2014

The Jewish Museum in Brussels has reopened to the public following deadly shootings there in May. During a somber ceremony, Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo pledged to support the fight against the "Islamic State."

The entrance to the Jewish Museum in Brussels
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Stephanie Lecocq

The reopening ceremony in front of 300 guests was held under tight security on Sunday, almost four months after the shooting attack which killed four people.

"All anti-Semitic and racist acts should be vigorously denounced, prosecuted and punished," Belgium's prime minister, Elio Di Rupo, said, adding that Belgium was fighting "terrorism" and would continue to do so.

The museum had been closed to the public since May 24, when a man entered it and opened fire, shooting dead an Israeli couple, a French woman and a Belgian man. A bronze plaque inscribed with the victims' names has been put up near the entranceway.

A French-Algerian man, 29-year-old Mehdi Nemmouche, faces murder charges in relation to the shootings. It's believed Nemmouche spent time fighting alongside jihadist groups in Syria, and a French journalist who had been held hostage in Syria has said he recognized him as one of his former captors.

The museum attack stoked fears of the danger posed by extremists from Europe mounting attacks on home soil after returning from fighting in Syria. The Jewish Museum attack occurred weeks before militant group "Islamic State" shocked the world by rapidly taking over large areas of northern Iraq after gaining a foothold in war-ravaged Syria.

Commitment to anti-IS fight

During his speech, Di Rupo reaffirmed his willingness for Belgium to join the growing group of countries fighting against the "Islamic State" group.

"The international situation is very worrying. If a request is made of us, I am supportive in this respect of our country taking part in the coalition of countries fighting against the Islamic State," he said, adding that his country would continue to intensify its cooperation with European and international allies to "combat more effectively the networks and individuals that threaten our democracies."

The reopening occurred on the European Day of Jewish Culture and also on the same day as thousands, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, gathered at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate at a rally to condemn anti-Semitism, which was reported during recent protests against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

se/kms (dpa, Reuters)