After the Paris attacks, documentary maker Eric Goens moved to Molenbeek to search for answers. We follow his progress in this four-part documentary series.
This is the story of Mohamed, the butcher, Irene and Jean, the elderly concierges, Mostafa, the overanxious father, Cheikh Tojgani, the imam, Philippe and Françoise, the former and the current mayor, and dozens of other residents, who usually live their lives far from the cameras.
The Molenbeek of Salah Abdeslam, Bilal Hadfi and Abdelhamid Abaaoud was constantly in the news after the attacks of 13 November, 2015. ‘Breeding-ground for jihadis’, ‘capital of terrorism’: no label or expletive was hard-hitting enough to emphasise the decline of Molenbeek.
But this documentary series looks at Molenbeek through the eyes of its residents. These are their answers. When and where did things go wrong in their municipality? What needs to be done? Where should there be interventions?
The series opens in a brasserie in Molenbeek. In the period before the Paris attacks, it was broken into three times. And each time the perpetrator was Brahim Abdeslam, the terrorist from Molenbeek who blew himself up in Paris in early November - apparently slightly prematurely - by tinkering with his bomb belt. The surveillance images speak volumes: ‘They had him back then,’ says the manager, ‘why did they let him go?’
Thanks to a succession of house searches and legal actions, tensions in Molenbeek rapidly escalate. Parents worry about their children, the butcher sees the neighbourhood empty, the imam calls for calm...
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