Belgian police arrest Muslim student for joking

Mohamed Ouaamari

Translated from Nathalie De Bisschop in Belgium:

Student who was arrested for tweet: “People are so afraid of Islam that they don’t see humour”

October 1, 2015

“I still really do not good feel good about it,” says Mohamed Ouaamari to newsmonkey. The 24-year-old student Digital Design was arrested in Antwerp yesterday because he was suspected of terrorism after a tweet that was meant to be funny. “I regret that it has caused so much rumour and that people became scared, but my tweet really had nothing to do with terrorism”, says the young Muslim. “Sometimes we need a bit more perspective.”

A practical joke with hidden cameras, it seemed at first sight. “I did not quite understand what was happening. I really thought it was a joke,” Mohamed Ouaamari tells newsmonkey. “At the moment they handcuff you, you realize quickly that it is not a joke.”

It all began with a playful remark on Twitter. The young Muslim of Moroccan ancestry was at a student event about networking and started to tweet. He asked for some advice from his followers: “Has anyone any networking tips? To call loudly “Allahu akbar” probably is not a good way to break the ice” he joked.

“Allahu akbar” (God is the greatest) is a phrase often used by all kinds of Muslims. It has nothing to do with terrorism. Just like if people from Christian backgrounds uses phrases like “Good Lord” or “God bless you” that does not make them terrorists.

Also, Mohamed Ouaamari’s tweet did not advocate using “Allahu akbar”.

One of his followers challenged the young man, all smiling and joking, to try. “Tomorrow in the news: 25 dead and 93 injured after mass hysteria in the ING building,” Ouaamari tweeted back.

Some concerned citizens called the emergency services, which caused police intervention to evacuate the building. Ouaamari had to come to the police station where he was interrogated for hours and then he was allowed to leave without charges.

Context and regret

A joke can be misinterpreted, the student fully understands. Quite apart from the fact that the tweet was humorous, there is, according to the student also nothing wrong with that. “When I posted my tweet, I did not suspect for a second that it could be interpreted as a terrorist attack,” responds Ouaamari. “I actually had Mecca in mind, where this year many pilgrims died.”

“I regret that it has caused so much fuss,” Ouaamari adds. ” … I wish I could have avoided that.” The ambitious Antwerp young man has still not completely recovered from what happened to him. “It seems like a cool story, but that it is absolutely not.”


Meanwhile, the hashtag #JeSuisMohamed is eagerly used on social media to express support for the young Muslim. “I think that’s far too focused on sensation and my situation has absolutely nothing to do with that of Charlie Hebdo“, he emphasized.

Yet there is some irony in the hashtag. “Once people talked about complete freedom of opinion and it was said that any humour should be allowed. It appears now that there surely are limits,” Ouaamari explains. “Do not get me wrong, of course I understand that limits must exist, but sometimes we need a bit more perspective. People are so fearful when it comes to Islam that they lose sight of humour,” he says to newsmonkey.

The young man does not let his head hang down. “I will continue to seize opportunities. I will continue to fight for my dreams and my ideals. We are young, we are the future and we must join in improving this country. I’m always going to keep doing my best,” he concludes.

Also here is his blog post after the recent events.

Don’t take wildcats home

This video is called European Wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris).

Translated from the Dutch ARK conservationists:

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Whoever finds a young cat in the forests of the south of Limburg province should not just take that animal home. It could be a wildcat. Just over the border in Belgium, in Opglabbeek, last weekend, at a shelter for sick and injured wild animals, a young wildcat was brought which earlier had been found in the woods.

Wildcat in shelter

The young cat which arrived in the Natuurhulpcentrum in Opglabbeek two weeks ago had been found by people in the east of Liège province, the transition between the Ardennes and the Eifel mountains, in the center of a forest. The young animal was taken home in the belief that it was a dumped or escaped domestic cat. Because it continued to be aggressive and skittish specialists were contacted who are pretty sure it is a wildcat.

Biggest oyster ever found in Belgium?

This video says about itself:

Pacific Oyster Larvae (various ages)

22 March 2015

Snippets of Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) larvae at different ages, 3d, 10d, and 18d post-fertilization.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

Giant oyster in Belgium – 02-09-15

It was almost as long as the forearm of the finders, an oyster shell of 38 cm. This very large oyster was found on the beach of Knokke-Heist by a family from Luxembourg. The Flanders Marine Institute reported that it is a Pacific oyster. These oysters are known that they can be very large. Because probably this shell is the biggest one found ever the oyster has been reported to the Guinness World Records book.

Exotic oyster

Pacific oysters have not been for a long time at the Dutch and Belgian coasts. From the 1960s on, the oysters from Japan were bred in large numbers brought to Zealand. The Dutch oysters had been badly affected by a disease and oyster growers thought the Japanese oyster would be stronger. Growers expected that the Pacific oysters would not reproduce by themselves in the Dutch cold water and that they could bring the Japanese oysters safely to the Netherlands. Unfortunately, the cold proved to be no problem, since the mid-seventies they multiplied massively.

Belgian judge arrested for recording police

Belfry of Bruges

Photography is not a crime … however, also in Belgium some police seem to think differently about people recording what they do. Even if a photographer is also a judge.

In the night of 26-27 August 2015, in a street in Bruges, Belgium, there was trouble between English Manchester United and Belgian football supporters. Many people living there made videos with their smartphones of police arresting football fans.

Including local judge Jan Nolf, who lives in that street as well.

Translated from Mr Nolf’s blog today:

No policeman objected to the filming or photographing.

Except suddenly that one, and then just when I wanted to make a picture of the lighted Halletoren [or: Belfry], right in the line of the street into view above the forest of white police helmets.

Now I will tell you literally about the “conversation”:

“Stop filming”.

“I do not film, I am photographing” (while I was putting away my photo equipment into my right pocket).

The masked policeman gets close to me. “Stop filming!” Since my photo equipment was already in my right pocket, I answered somewhat puzzledly: “I did not film, I took a picture.”

It seems like under his helmet he is deaf, because he repeats “Stop filming,” making me wonder what is really his intention.

So I ask “Why?”

The gruff answer is again: ‘Stop filming “- while I still have my camera in my right pocket (my iPhone during the whole scene remained in my left pocket).

I answer calmly shrugging my shoulders: “I did not film but I do not really agree that it is illegal.”

The man immediately shouts out a command and three helmeted and masked policemen frogmarch me away to the other side of the street … There they put me against the wall immediately with my hands on my back firmly enthralled with narrow straps.

Then I am led to the queue for the bus for the arrested people from Manchester.

Before I step on the bus, I ask the police three times if they realize what they are doing. They look at me and do not answer. Nobody asks for my ID.

The whole scene is too crazy to be true and that keeps me calm all the time in an unlikely way. I do wonder what will happen to me on the bus.

Judge Nolf ended up being freed without charges. He will lodge a complaint about this police behaviour.

Rare spadefoot toad conservation

This is a Dutch video from 2012 about spadefoot toad conservation in Limburg province.

Dutch conservation organisation ARK reports today that on 14 July 2015, nearly 700 tadpoles of the rare European common spadefoot toad have been freed. This happened in Kempen-Broek nature reserve, on the border of Noord-Brabant and Limburg provinces in the Netherlands and Limburg province in Belgium.

This was the second time that larvae of this rare species have been freed there. In 2016, it will happen for the third and last time.

Gall midges, new Dutch and Belgian discoveries

This video says about itself:

25 August 2014

Gall midge (Cecidomyiidae sp.) oviposits on a fallen beech in a forest near Marburg, Hesse, Germany.

Translated from the Dutch entomologists of EIS Kenniscentrum Insecten:

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Soon a revision of the gall midges of the Benelux, with 11 new species for the Netherlands and 87 ones for Belgium, will appear. Gall midges are among the main producers of galls on leaves of plants. The midge Obolodiplosis robiniae which appeared first in the Netherlands as recently as 2008 proves surprisingly to be the most common species in our country.

Gall midges together with gall wasps, gall mites and gall producing fungi are the major producers of galls. The mosquitoe-like insects lay eggs in plants and the plants respond by making galls. These are fascinating structures of plant tissue, which provide food and shelter for the larvae of the midges.