Belgium: Only 18% See Islam as Compatible with Western Values


Belgium: Flemish government commissions study on integration to ‘take the temperature’ in communities with migrant backgrounds.

Only 18 percent of native Flemish Belgians consider Muslim values to be compatible with their way of life, according a survey on integration released Tuesday.

The study — commissioned by Flemish politician Liesbeth Homans, a member of Belgium’s largest party, the right-wing New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), and a Flemish vice minister-president — surveyed close to 4,500 Flemish and Brussels residents with Belgian, Turkish, Moroccan, Polish, Romanian and Congolese backgrounds.

Among Belgians with a Moroccan background, 60 percent said they thought Muslims adapt well to Western life, according to De Morgen.

Asked about the role of religion in society, 39 percent of Flemish people with a Turkish background said they consider religion to be more important than the local law. A slightly lower percentage of people with Moroccan (23 percent) and Congolese (19 percent) backgrounds agree. But among the younger generation, most survey respondents said religion should adapt to Belgian law.

The results also show a decrease in the percentage of families with migrant backgrounds who speak Flemish at home, with only 29 percent of Flemish residents with Romanian origins and 36 percent of those with Polish roots speaking Flemish with their children.

The figure is, however, higher among Flemish residents with Turkish and Moroccan backgrounds, of which 60 and 67 percent respectively speak Flemish at home.

The Congolese community reported experiencing the most incidents of racism and discrimination, the study found. Despite marked efforts at integration — 65 percent said they are employed, 74 percent report following Belgian affairs on a regular basis and 50 percent said they speak Flemish at home — a high percentage also report being discriminated against in the rental and labor markets (69 and 39 percent respectively).

The research was commissioned to “take the temperature” of Flemish society, according to Homans, who said there are no immediate plans to implement specific policies based on the survey’s findings.

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