Belgium's Interior Minister Jan Jambon, who sparked a controversy by saying many Muslims were seen dancing after the Brussels terror attacks, has denied he stigmatised the country's Muslim population.
Answering questions during a parliamentary session, Jambon stuck to his statement but clarified that he did not mean to "stigmatise a whole community". "Everyone knows that these things happened. Do we have to wait for an official police report to confirm the existence of these facts," Jambon told the parliament, the Guardian reported.
"I don't have the police report. There was [dancing], but not much... several services have confirmed to me that these weren't rumours and that they saw this on the ground. What do you think, that I am going to stigmatise them by naming streets and districts?
"We cannot stigmatise a whole community. I have said hundreds of times that we have to work with the Muslim community, to win back their hearts, some of which are turning against our society, even if it is just three people," the minister was quoted as saying in the parliament.
He added it is his duty to "identify problems, to name things and to take actions" and he will not "turn away" from doing so.
In a recent interview with Flemish-language newspaper De Standaard, Jambon was quoted as saying: "A significant section of the Muslim community danced when [the Brussels terror] attacks took place." More than 30 people died in the bomb attacks on Brussels airport and a train station.
In the interview, Jambon also pointed out that some Muslims living in Brussels's largely immigrant Molenbeek neighbourhood attacked police during an operation in March to arrest a Paris attack suspect.
Jambon's remarks resembled comments made by Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner in the US presidential race. Trump has reportedly been quoted on certain occasions as saying that many people were cheering when terrorists struck the World Trade Center on 9 September 2001.