Belgium Brussels Isis attack protest 2016
People take part in a rally called "The march against the fear, Tous Ensemble, Samen Een, All Together" in memory of the victims of bomb attacks in Brussels REUTERS/Yves Herman

A large protest march has taken place in central Brussels against both terror attacks by Islamic State (Isis) and against racists attempting to manipulate the attacks for their own ends. The "March Against Hate" passed through the district of Molenbeek, which has a large Muslim community and has become notorious as being the home to a large number of the terrorists who took part in the attacks on Brussels in March and Paris in 2015.

Up to 15,000 people are said to have taken part in the protest march according to Belgian police, including protesters from several different religions and atheists. Relatives of some of the victims of the attacks also took part.

Marchers had been urged not to wear backpacks as some of the bombers who attacked the city on 22 March hid their devices in backpacks. Two others used suitcases to attack the airport. Thirty-two people died in the attacks.

The march had originally been due to take place in Brussels on 27 March, but had to be cancelled over security fears. One of the alleged masterminds behind the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in the area on 18 March, possibly panicking the attackers who targeted the airport and Metro to bring forward their own attacks.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind behind the Paris attacks, in which 130 died, also lived locally. The area has been linked with terror attacks dating back to 2004.

The message from protesters on the march was defiant, with both Isis and racists the focus of derogatory slogans. There have been fears that the attacks and plots to attack Europe by Isis-inspired militants would stir up inter-communal strife, as apparently took place in Paris on 14 April.

Despite today's march, the New York Times reports local teachers in the Molenbeek district claiming "90%of their students, 17, 18 years old, called [terrorists] heroes".