Former U.S. ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman says Belgium’s homegrown terrorism problem is a creation of international media, and the U.S. faces a much bigger problem when it comes to safety.
Gutman was a guest on Belgian news show “De Zevende Dag” Sunday, where he discussed the Belgian link to the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. Asked whether or not Belgium is a “failed state” for its inability to prevent radicalization of Muslim teenagers, Gutman turned the table by comparing his own country to Afghanistan.
“The only problem Belgium has had is letting others control the message. First France and then the international media,” Gutman said. “Belgium is the 14th safest country in the world. If it would be a failed state, then the U.S. would be Afghanistan.”
Gutman is referring to the Global Peace Index, which uses a number of variables to measure safety in countries. The latest index from June ranks Belgium 14th and the U.S. 94th, just ahead of Saudi Arabia.
Gutman went on to bash international media for their illustration of Molenbeek, the Brussels neighborhood where at least six of the Paris attackers as well as dozens of convicted terrorists grew up. Gutman said he never had a bad experience in Molenbeek and that he feels safer there compared to parts of metropolitan cities in the U.S. (RELATED: An Inside Look at The European Jihadi Capital That Keeps Brussels On High Alert)
“If I had to walk at midnight alone tonight in parts of New York, parts of Washington, parts of Los Angeles or Molenbeek — statistically it’s not even close, the safest walk tonight would be Molenbeek,” he said.
Gutman was nominated ambassador to Belgium by President Barack Obama in 2009 and left the position in 2013.
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