All continents on the western front

January 2009 – It is time European countries acknowledged the part soldiers from their former colonies played in the first world war. Read on


Murder at rush hour

November 2008 – A murder trial is delving into the mystery of why and how a young Belgian was stabbed to death for his MP3 player during rush hour in the capital’s busiest train station. Read on


Taking Hitler off the menu

November 2008 – Was Belgian television justified in pulling an episode of a cooking programme featuring Hitler's favourite dish? Read on


Free at last

April 2008 – With Belgium on the verge of collapse, the quaint city of Ghent has declared its independence from Flanders. Read on


An uncertain future

January 2008 – The year that was: As an enlarged EU searched for a raison d’etre, Belgium spent much of this year struggling with its own identity crisis. Read on


Death in fast motion

January 2008 – Grief at the loss of a loved one knows no cultural boundaries but increasing mobility may be making death a lonelier affair. Read on


Voices in the wilderness

November 2007Even with a Nobel peace prize, there’s a limit to what Al Gore can do, and so a group of determined eco-worriers are making plans ... Read on


Carefree, car-free

October 2007 – Cities across the world took a small step for pedestrian-kind during car-free day this weekend. Now it's time to take a giant leap. Read on


War of words at the heart of Europe

September 2007 – The collapse of talks to form a federal government is testing Belgium’s legendary capacity for political compromise to the limit. Read on


Testing times

June 2007 – Across Europe, the real challenge when dealing with minority groups is not integration but marginalisation. Read on


Commuting for dummies

April 2007 – In the last year and a half, Khaled Diab has discovered that commuting is something of a professional activity and if there are no management training programmes on how to become an effective commuter and influence people, there ought to be! Read on


Speaking the language of unity

March 2007 – Elio Di Rupo, the flamboyant chief of the Walloon Parti Socialiste, has called for a network of bilingual schools in Brussels and areas at the so-called ‘language frontiers’. Despite the dismissal of some Flemish politicians, his proposal makes both pedagogical and political sense. In fact, it should be applied across the country. Read on


X Pat meets Spock’s parents

January 2007 – X Pat is invited to a Star Trek convention but winds up in a maternity ward where he midhusbands an infant half Vulcan. Read on


X Pat: Do not release until Xmas

December 2006 – It’s nearly Xmas and X Pat finds himself in the most delicious quandary of his life. Read on


Virgin vote at the ballot box

October 2006 – Khaled Diab gives up his electoral chastity and gets a taste of political participation. Read on


X Pat and the chocolate factory

September 2006 – X Pat, the xpat xtraordinaire and xample world citizen, in his quest to come to terms with his first name winds up behind a deranged genius’s chocolate bars. Read on


Gent into the groove…

September 2006 – Every July, carnival mania descends on the picturesque and offbeat university city of Gent. As Khaled Diab finds out, the annual Gentse Feesten has something for everyone: the hip or the hippy, the mainstream or the outlandish. And it ain’t just about music, it’s also about comedy, performing arts… and politics. Read on


Exploring Belgium’s cultural identity

September 2006 – Describing the intricacies of culture is like mapping the human genome – pitted with difficulties. Khaled Diab spoke to a number of Belgians to find out what makes the country tick culturally. Read on


Grooming yourself for Belgian society

September 2006 – Any advice on ‘etiquette’ must be taken with a pinch of salt. It is up to the individual to decide how much to behave or misbehave in any given situation. With that disclaimer, here is a short guide to Belgian social conventions. Read on


More to life than window dressing

August 2006 – Badra Djait, an advisor to Flemish integration minister Marino Keulen, was born and raised among Gent’s small but close-knit Algerian community. Here, she recounts what it was like growing up as a woman in two cultures and traditions. Read on


Het pad naar persoonlijke onafhankelijkheid

Badra Djait, een adviseur van Vlaams Minister van Inburgering Marino Keulen, is in Gent geboren en opgegroeid als een lid van de kleine en hechte Algerijnse gemeenschap daar. Hier, vertelt ze haar ervaring als een vrouw die leeft tussen twee culturen. Lees meer


X Pat: Quantum leaps, beer and knitting

August 2006 – X Pat, the xpat xtraordinaire and xample world citizen, invites Diabolic Digest readers to join him on an absurdist tour of the Belgian sociosphere. Read on


Masters of the university – may the course be with you!

August 2006 – In the second of a two-part series, Khaled Diab investigates what Belgium has to offer in English to graduate students. Read on


Should I stay or should I go?

June 2006 – Khaled Diab investigates what Belgium can offer those students who want to take undergraduate courses in English. Read on


Terror in the park

May 2006 – A racially-inspired shooting spree in Antwerp which left two people dead – including a toddler – and one seriously hurt has refocused Belgian public attention on the issue of urban violence and racism. Read on


Belgium needs more personal social responsibility

May 2006 – The ‘silent march’ was a moving expression of popular sentiment at the tragic murder of a teenager who has become known simply as Joe. But calls for more police and ‘zero tolerance’ will not prevent a repeat of this tragedy. People need to realise that the system does not have all the answers and it is time for citizens to take on more personal social responsibility. Read on


Conversion is not a crime

December 2005 – Muriel Degauque has the dubious distinction of being the first white European female suicide bomber. Shocking as this is, suggestions that we have reached a dangerous turning point and that converts are brainwashed fanatics and their partners are comic-book villains are unfair to the vast majority of converts and to non-converts married to Muslims.. Read on


Encounter with a celebrity saint

December 2005 – Never having believed in Santa as a child, Khaled Diab was surprised to run into the elusive Sinterklaas on a desolate, windswept beach in the Netherlands. Read on


Vrij van angst

By Katleen Maes

September 2005 – EEN zonnige lentedag in april, in de vroegere grensstreek tussen Noord- en Zuid-Jemen. Drie meisjes van 11 hoeden schapen in een idyllisch berglandschap. Plotseling struikelt een van hen, haar voet zit vast in een gat in de grond. Nog geen vijf seconden later, een enorme knal. Ze heeft in het gat een landmijn geraakt, verstopt in een wit gemarkeerde en dus - zo dachten de meisjes - veilige zone. Ze had geluk, enkele uren later was ze in het ziekenhuis, levend en wel, al mist ze nu een been en enkele vingers. Read on


From nature to naturalisation

July 2005 – This month, Belgium celebrates its 175th birthday. Khaled Diab, its newest citizen, reflects on his newfound Belgianess and all things Belgian. Read on


The language placebo

January 2005 – To hear some politicians speak, one would think that language and culture were the panacea for all Belgium’s social and economic woes vis-à-vis its immigrant community. Read on


Encounter with a celebrity saint

December 2004 – Never having believed in Santa as a child, Khaled Diab is surprised to run into the elusive Sinterklaas on a desolate, windswept beach in the Netherlands. Read on


Behind the gates of hell

April 2004 – The mayhem and anarchy gripping Iraq lend a deadly ring of truth to early Arab warnings that the US-led invasion would “open the gates of hell”.  Khaled Diab visits a photo exhibition in Brussels that puts a human face on the suffering beyond that infernal doorway. Read on


Working on the mine ban

By Katleen Maes

March 2004 – Five years after an unprecedented alliance of governments and human rights groups signed a major international treaty to ban landmines, 20,000 people a year are still killed or injured by the weapons. Belgium has been at the forefront of efforts to reduce that horrific toll, but there is still a great deal of work to be done. Read on


Justice at last

By Katleen Maes

March 2004 – Belgium's 'trial of the century' has kicked off in the sleepy Walloon town of Arlon. After seemingly endless delays, notorious paedophile, rapist and suspected child killer Marc Dutroux is finally coming face-to-face with a jury. Read on


A state of pragmatism

March 2004 – As one of the original six founders of the European Union, Belgium has been a powerful driving force behind the continent’s unification. However, after nearly 174 years of pragmatic nationhood, the marriage between its two main communities has become increasingly shaky. What are the prospects for enduring national unity and how much does it matter in a borderless Europe? Read on


More to Brussels than meets the eye

March 2004 – As the European Union prepares for a political shift eastwards, its famously Byzantine politics will get just that bit more confusing. The new member states may make the EU’s bureaucratic landscape seem greyer, but the accompanying influx of thousands of eastern Europeans will make the cultural kaleidoscope of Brussels, the city that plays host to so many of its institutions, that much more colourful. Read on


The ties that bind

Katleen Maes and Khaled Diab

February 2004 – Congolese President Joseph Kabila was in Brussels on Monday as part of a four-nation European tour. But as he seeks financial and political backing here, Belgian troops are already on the ground in Congo helping to train the country's new army. Read on


Veiled intentions

January 2004 – Some prominent politicians – first in France and now in Belgium – are calling for Islamic headscarves to be banned in schools. Rather than simply guaranteeing the separation of church and state, such a ban is more likely to alienate the Muslim community – particularly women – and harm multiculturalism. Read on


Migrating from the margins

November 2003 – As a reflection of Belgium's multicultural reality, just under 10 percent of the country's population is foreign. While the EU component of this population has the right to vote in local elections in Belgium and in European elections, the non-EU contingent goes mostly unheard and unseen on the political radar screen. Read on


Burning issues 

September 2003 – Belgian trains are about to become off-limits to smokers and the debate over extending the ban to other public spaces simmers on in Belgium – and across Europe. Read on


More to Brussels than meets the eye

September 2003 – To many outsiders, Brussels is synonymous with bureaucracy  a Kafkaesque nightmare devoid of local colour. But to really get to know it, you have to get under the city’s skin. Read on


Deconstructing Belgium

July 2003 – Even after 173 years of nationhood, the Belgian state appears as implausible as ever. In a country united by pragmatism and divided by language, will Belgium be torn apart by the force of words or will it be held together with the power of good sense? Read on


Adieu war crimes law

July 2003 – As the International Criminal Court celebrates its first anniversary, Belgium has decided to scrap its controversial ‘genocide law’. This may please allies and protect business interests, but the decision has compromised the principles of international law, let down victims of atrocities and confirmed that universal human rights are anything but global. Read on


A Belgian paradox on the Nile

July 2003 – Belgians appear to be more determined than most not to let a conflict get in the way of their holiday plans. While concern over instability in the Middle East has kept others away, recent months have seen a rise in the number of Belgians visiting the land of the Pharaohs. Read on


The threat of depleted geraniums

June 2003 – American and British forces have so far failed to find any WMD in Iraq, but Khaled Diab has stumbled across a nightmare cache of biological weapons right on his Brussels' doorstep. The intrepid journalist risks life and limb to report on how stopping to smell the flowers can be a dangerous affair. Read on


Somewhere over the rainbow

May 2003 – Belgium’s ‘rainbow’ coalition is coming to the end of its four-year term in office. As the country prepares to go to the polls to choose a new government, question marks surround what lies at the end of the rainbow for Belgium’s Muslim community. Read on


Breaking the culture barrier

May 2003 – A new commercial Franco-Arab radio station in Brussels hopes to promote inter-community harmony through music. Contact Inter aims to break down the culture barrier with a mix of the latest sounds from North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and beyond. Read on


Get off my cloud!

April 2003 – Residents of Brussels and the surrounding area are again protesting at the rerouting of flight paths in the capitals skies. Read on


Joy and fury at Belgium’s revised genocide law

February 2003 – As a global army of millions of peace protesters attempts to stop the march towards a US-led war in Iraq, Belgium’s legal system has put heads of state and political leaders on notice that they run the risk of being held personally accountable for their actions once they leave office. Read on


Minority report

February 2003 – Does the media paint an accurate picture of ethnic minorities? A new initiative aims to provide a broader view. Read on


Sleepless in Grimbergen

January 2003 – Since flightpaths were altered to and from Brussels in November, fewer people are affected by the nocturnal rumble of aircraft. But they are a furious "few". Read on


Words without frontiers

January 2003 – Many parents are calling for immersion language learning to be made widespread in Belgium but a debate over pedagogy and politics stands in the way. Read on


Belgium gets smart about identity

December 2002 – The Belgian government hopes that, within five years, every citizen will be carrying a new electronic identity card. But will the new ‘smart’ IDs prove to be the Citizen’s friend or Big Brother’s little helper? Read on


Murder prompts riots

December 2002 – Antwerp Arab leader arrested after unrest following “racist” killing. Read on


Arab pride on the streets of Antwerp

November 2002 – An Arab community group has organised patrols on Antwerp streets to counter what it calls a 'manhunt' by police of Moroccan youths. Found out about what has been criticised as a 'private militia'. Read on


Arab panthers and Flemish lions

November 2002 – A new wave of Arab activism is taking hold in Antwerp. Khaled Diab meets its leader. Read on


Battle for the Arab airwaves

October 2002 – a new commercial radio station has stoked a war of words… in Arabic.   Read on


Leaps of faith

July 2002 – My arm hung sheepishly in mid-air and my confident smile faltered momentarily when Rita Walravens politely declined to shake my hand. Despite the fleeting sense of awkwardness and my hasty withdrawal of the offending limb, I comforted myself that I had not irreparably put my foot in it and that she bore me no ill feelings. Read on and readers’ reactions


Peace activists to join forces

June 2002 – Israeli and Palestinian civil society should not count on their deadlocked politicians to deliver peace and must join forces to mobilise grassroots support for a peaceful resolution to the violent conflict in the Middle East, peace activists from both sides agreed at a meeting in Brussels this week. Read on


Walking like an Egyptian

May 2002 – The Bangles, a long forgotten 1980s girl band, will always be remembered by an Egyptian teenager who suffered untold playground trauma provoked by their unfounded hit theory on how to identify his fellow countrymen through a peculiar national trait. Read on


Palestinian militant’s whereabouts a secret

May 2002 – The whereabouts of an exiled Palestinian, Khalil Mohammed Abdullah Nawareh, who arrived in Belgium last week remain shrouded in secrecy owing to government concerns for his safety and public order. Read on


At death’s door

April 2002 – An appointment with Belgium’s only Islamic undertaker. Read on


Reinventing the Arab media

March 2002 – Few would have expected tiny Qatar, a sleepy gulf state once known for little more than its oil and its ancient tradition of trading, to be at the forefront of what has been dubbed as nothing less than an Arab media revolution by many and dismissed as nothing more than a sophisticated propaganda tool by others. Read on


Tales of the Alhambra

March 2002 – A group of young Muslims take the director’s chair to make a series of films about how perceptions of their religion have been affected by 11 September. Read on


Pilgrims’ progress

February 2002 – As Muslims the world over head for Mecca, Khaled Diab looks at festivities closer to home. Read on


Resolving meaty issues

February 2002 – Animal rights activists have welcomed the setting up of temporary abattoirs during Eid to enforce Federal and EU legislation that bans the ritual slaughter of animals outside official slaughter houses, a practice they say poses public health risks and makes the animals suffer unnecessarily. Read on


Moor or less Belgians

January 2002 – The second and third generation of Moroccans in Belgium are gaining a renewed pride in their mixed heritage and are becoming more assertive in expressing their political and cultural will to be recognised as full and equal players in the country’s colourful social landscape. Khaled Diab talks to some young Moroccans. Read on


Looking for the Ramadan spirit

November 2001 – A long way from home in Cairo, Khaled Diab sets out to discover how Ramadan is observed on the streets of Brussels. Read on



ã2008 – Khaled Diab. Unless otherwise stated, all the content on this website is the copyright of Khaled Diab.

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