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Belgian school arson attack believed to be linked to controversial sex education program

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BRUSSELS (AP) – Belgian Prime Minister Alexander Decroo said Friday he would seek help from government experts on extremism following a series of school arson attacks. Authorities believe the attack is related to the school’s controversial sex education program.

Mr Descroux spoke this week, just hours after a sixth school in the French-speaking Wallonia region was set on fire. Officials said signs protesting the so-called Ebrus plan were found in some schools.

The program is a mandatory four-hour training for students aged 11-12 and 15-16, aimed at helping them develop their love and sex lives. This program has been around for years and has been available to all ages, but until now it was not mandatory.

“In a democracy like ours, schools should never be targeted,” Decroo said. “We live in a country of tolerance. Tolerance means that different points of view can be discussed, but it never leads to violence, especially in places frequented by children. .”

Interior Minister Anneliese Verlinden on Friday called for an end to the attacks.

“We are not touching the schools,” Verlinden said at a press conference with Decroo. “That’s the red line.”

De Croo said he had asked the agency responsible for intelligence on “terrorism, extremism and radicalization” to analyze the situation, and Verlinden said he had asked federal police to respond to local forces in the affected areas. He said he had requested assistance.

No one has claimed responsibility for the fires that set six schools on fire, and no suspects have been arrested. This year, around 100,000 students from the Walloon-Brussels Federation will have to attend two sessions, totaling four hours of training.

A protest attended by several hundred people was also organized in Brussels.

Several Islamic groups also condemned the program in a joint statement, expressing concern that it encourages “hypersexualization” in children.

Rumors about Evras’ nature are also circulating on the Internet.

De Croo said sex education had been provided in Belgium for half a century and warned that the country was not going backwards.

“This is nothing new and is not only the basis for sexual health, but also for children to be aware of their rights and (physical) integrity,” he added.

Other officials tried to deny this rumor.

“I would like to call on everyone to remain calm and try to destroy the lies that are being spread about the Evrus system,” Caroline Desir, Education Minister of the Walloon-Brussels Union, said on Friday. “No, we’re not going to set up a pedophile system. No, we’re not going to make kids want to change their gender. No, we’re not going to teach kids how to have sex.”

Local media, citing information from the Charleroi City Prosecutor’s Office, said that investigations to date have not established a connection between the six arson attacks.

Charleroi Mayor Paul Magnette likened the arson to “a form of terrorism”.

“These are arson attacks on schools, which are sacred places,” he told Sudinfo media. “It’s a place where children learn respect and tolerance.”

Two other schools in the city of Liège, also in Wallonia, were also destroyed, local media reported.

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