BRUSSELS: The mayor of the town of Vilvoorde in Belgium has ordered the closure of the local gurdwara for a month on the charge that it was harbouring illegal immigrants.
Belgian media Tuesday charged that the Sikh temple "appears to operate as a magnet for Indians staying in Belgium illegally".
The Flanders news and radio VRT website said that during a recent police raid 11 illegal immigrants were discovered in the cellars of an empty building in the neighbourhood of the gurdwara in Vilvoorde which lies outside Brussels.
Mayor Hans Bonte was quoted saying that: "This is the same hiding place used by people-traffickers who were convicted at the end of last year. In total, they received prison sentences totalling 54 years and six months. The Sikh temple provided food and accommodation for the illegal immigrants during daytime."
On Oct 13, Bonte had a meeting with representatives of the gurdwara Guru Nanak Sahib. He asked them to formulate constructive proposals aimed at tackling the problem of the illegals.
"They told me they were aware of the situation but could not do anything about it. Meanwhile, I have not heard anything" said the mayor.
Representatives of the gurdwara say that the Sikh worship house offers langar (free food) to anybody who comes there without demanding their identity papers.