Four months after a shooting that killed four people, the Brussels Jewish Museum opened its doors to the public again on Sunday in a solemn ceremony attended by Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.
The museum in central Brussels had been closed since the May 24 attack by a gunman who opened fire in the museum with a Kalashnikov rifle, killing an Israeli couple, a French woman and a Belgian man.
French national Mehdi Nemmouche is suspected of having carried out the attack after spending most of 2013 fighting in Syria with Islamist rebels, French prosecutors have said.
Remanded in custody
Nemmouche, 29, was remanded in custody for another three months on Friday, judicial officials said.
The hearing took place in a closed session and officials said the remand period could be extended again, after Nemmouche was first ordered held for a month following his extradition from France at the end of July.
The museum shooting — the first such attack in Brussels in three decades — raised fears of a resurgence of anti-Semitic violence in Europe and of terror attacks from foreign fighters returning from Syria.
Nemmouche was arrested in the southern French city of Marseille days on from the attack after being spotted on a bus from Brussels.
On Sunday, Di Rupo said, “We are fighting and will continue in our fight against terrorism.
“Belgium has strengthened and will intensify further its European and international cooperation to combat more effectively the networks and individuals that threaten our democracies,” Di Rupo said at the opening ceremony under tight security.
Sunday’s opening coincided with the European Day of Jewish Culture, and a new bronze plaque with the names of the four victims has been put up by the entrance hall.
The ceremony comes at a time when Western governments are increasingly worried about the flow of European citizens to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside Islamist militants, returning home radicalized.
Di Rupo reaffirmed his willingness to join the coalition of countries fighting Islamic State militants.
“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 Islamic State,” he said.
The United States has been seeking to galvanize Western and Middle Eastern governments to join it in fighting the extremist group in Iraq and Syria, which has shocked observers with its rapid advances and brutal methods.
Nemmouche’s trial is expected to start in one to three years.
Nemmouche is also suspected to have been the warden of French journalists taken hostage in Syria in 2013.
One of the journalists, Nicolas Henin recognized him as one of the guards who held him hostage for months, before being released in December 2013.
“Regarding the journalists hostages in Syria there were no indictment,” said Sebastien Courtoy, one of Nemmouche’s lawyers.
Some material for this report came from Reuters, AFP and AP.