"Everybody who makes it, gets out of here"

Numerous have been the reactions to the lighting of fires in Molenbeek on New Year's Eve and the subsequent attacks on fire-fighters.

Sammy Mahdi is the head of the Flemish Christian democrat party's youth section.  He grew up in Molenbeek and like so many says he's disgusted by what happened.

"It can be solved, but a number of social economic measures will be needed as well as repression and changes to the structure of the police zone and its funding."

All Flemish parties back a merger of the Brussels police zones, but several Francophone mayors are blocking any progress.  Mr Mahdi believes interior minister De Crem will not be able to change much now as Belgium is being governed by a caretaker administration.

"Brussels is a kind of social lift" Sammy Mahdi told VT Radio.  "Molenbeek is at the bottom and it's not going up.  The first thing people do when they make it a little is leave Molenbeek.  That's why no middle class ever develops.  People leave and we start from zero once again.  That's what we see today, what we saw yesterday and what we will see next year."

Khadija Zamouri is the city cabinet member for youth in Molenbeek.  The Flemish liberal argues that the parents of minors who joined in the rioting should foot the bill for the damage.  The incidents happened under the full glare of CCTV cameras.  Khadija Zamouri: "Police are examining the pictures frame by frame to identify suspects.  They know who did it.  All parents will be invited together with their children."

"If minors are involved, the parents are responsible.  I think the parents should pay and that happens.  Parents are visiting the police to learn what their kids did.  Some are surprised.  Others are not." 

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