to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.
Latest update : 2014-01-31
‘These are children, not terrorists,’ say Belgian parents of Syria jihadists
This week, two French teenagers were arrested trying to reach Syria to join fighting against President Bashar al-Assad. Three men from Paris went on trial on Thursday on similar charges. Now Belgian parents tell France 24 about losing their children to jihad.
It is a situation not unique to France. Young people from all across Europe have travelled to Syria to join the ‘Holy War’ against Assad, often leaving without warning, their parents unaware to their sons’ and daughters’ plans to become soldiers in a foreign land.
In Belgium, an estimated 300 citizens have left their country for the Syrian battlegrounds. Many parents believe their children, young and impressionable, have been manipulated into taking up the jihadist cause.
Gathered in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, a group of mothers with children in Syria have staged a protest to press the authorities into tackling the problem.
They are making a stand against what they claim is a lack of action by the authorities.
“We’re the parents of jihad fighters, of terrorists. People are afraid of them, of us. But we’re not the ones who’ve sent our children over there,” says Veronique, one of several protesters wearing masks they say symbolise “misunderstanding”.
“Our children were tricked into this,” says another. “They didn’t go to Syria of their own free will. I mean: it’s not normal, that a kid who had no problems finds himself over there, that’s not normal. These are children, Belgian children… They’re not terrorists!”