Paris suspect attacks ‘anti-Muslim bias’

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The sole surviving suspect from the 2015 Paris terror attacks is refusing to speak any further in a Belgian court, where he is on trial over the gunfight that led to his arrest.

Salah Abdeslam has said he will not respond to questions from the judge. “My silence does not make me a criminal, it’s my defence,” he said.

Abdeslam, 28, claimed that Muslims were “judged mercilessly”, and said he was placing his trust in Allah and the Prophet Muhammad.

“I am not afraid of you, I am not afraid of your allies,” he added, without making clear who he meant.

He urged the prosecution to base its case on “forensic and tangible evidence”, and not to “swagger about to satisfy public opinion”.

French prosecutors believe Abdeslam played a key role in the Paris attacks, in which gunmen and suicide bombers targeted a concert hall, stadium, restaurants and bars, killing 130 people and injuring hundreds more.

He became Europe’s most wanted man after the mass killings, and was captured in Brussels four months later.

The defendant’s brother, Brahim, was among the Paris attackers and died in a suicide blast outside a cafe.

Abdeslam is not expected to go on trial in France until 2019 at the earliest.
The charges he faces in Brussels are not related to events in Paris, but to a shootout he had with police while on the run in Belgium.

Abdeslam and his suspected accomplice Sofian Ayari, 24, are accused of possessing illegal weapons and the attempted murder of police officers in a terrorist context.

The men allegedly fought a gun battle with officers who raided the flat where they were holed up, in the Molenbeek district of Brussels. They face up to 40 years in prison if found guilty.

■ Is Molenbeek a hotbed of extremism?

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