Vilvoorde, Belgium


Vilvoorde has been a pioneering actor within the Belgian municipal context with a well-recognised approach to local violent extremism related issues. Between 2012 and 2014, Vilvoorde saw 28 inhabitants leave to fight in Syria, which prompted a policy response from the city. Since the launch of their deradicalisation plan in 2014, no further citizens have left for Syria, demonstrating methodological success in addressing the underlying causes of radicalisation and the motivations of foreign terrorist fighters.

Vilvoorde formally joined the SCN in May 2016, making an active contribution to learning and expertise across the network. Mayor Hans Bonte addressed the inaugural SCN Global Summit in Antalya, Turkey, presenting on Vilvoorde’s local strategy and highlighting important shared challenges in cities all over the world.



With the highest European levels of foreign terrorist fighters travelling to the Syria/Iraq conflict, Belgium has developed its own comprehensive approach to countering violent extremism and preventing radicalisation. Both the Federal and regional governments play an important role in the strategy. Key to the Belgian strategy is ensuring good communication between the Federal, Flemish, Walloon and municipal policy levels and adapting solutions to every local context. On a Federal level, the focus is primarily security and safety measures, while the regional and local levels focus on prevention and resilience-building. To a large extent, regions and cities can therefore design their own prevention programmes to complement national policy.

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Vilvoorde has drawn frequent praise for its innovative and hands-on response to radicalisation and violent extremism. This has been led at the highest political levels with strong involvement from Mayor Bonte and his team in developing a thorough local strategy. The city has launched multiple projects to stop the flow of young men and women to Syria, and to strengthen the bond between the city’s Police Department and its young inhabitants. Vilvoorde has appointed a municipal official to overlook the city’s radicalisation policy and put in place a dedicated PVE and CVE service to implement the city’s local strategy.

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Official Strategy Documents & Action Plans

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Other Resources

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Name: Hans Bonte

Role: Mayor of Vilvoorde

Hans Bonte