Tourists visit the Brussels district of Molenbeek during a guided tour showing off the area's manufacturing heritage, diverse population and lively market, Belgium, August 13, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
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Molenbeek, the Brussels borough that gained unwanted notoriety last year when Daesh (ISIS) militants from the area attacked Paris, has become an unlikely tourist draw – and not just for those with ghoulish tastes.A borough of 95,000 people, up to 40 percent of them Muslim and mainly of Moroccan origin, it sits just across a once warehouse-lined canal from the old heart of Brussels, whose Renaissance Grand-Place, beer bars, chocolate shops and art galleries are the more typical destinations for tourist throngs.Many tours take in Molenbeek's elegant town hall and the pretty square in front which hosts a lively twice-weekly market; it also houses the apartment where Abdeslam grew up alongside an elder brother who was among the Paris suicide bombers.Debaecke says most tourists are happy to let him show them a bustling neighborhood where urban regeneration projects are drawing in affluent loft dwellers but also aim to improve lives for locals in one of Belgium's poorest boroughs, a 10-minute underground train ride from European Union headquarters.
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