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Belgium: Majority of Belgians believe that descendants of immigrants will never be Belgians

A survey conducted by newspaper Le Soir and foundation This is not a crisis reveals that three-quarters of respondents no longer feel at home in Belgium. According to sociologists, this sentiment is due to an increasingly unbridled xenophobia. In a country where 3 in 10 residents have a parent or a grandparent with a nationality other than Belgian, it is worrying that more than halve of the respondents believes that, even after several generations, descendants of immigrants will never truly be Belgians and 43% think that being Belgian and Muslim are not compatible. Islamophobia, a divided society, Muslims fear and mistrust of institutions are to blame, argues sociologist and author of the survey Benoît Scheuer.

Confusing migrants and Muslims

Other analysts also point out the identity crisis faced by Europe as source of fear of the other. As the most targeted immigrant group, Arabs and Muslims are scapegoats blamed for complex societal problems such as unemployment, youth violence or national disunity. Origin and religion are often confused and considered as synonyms for danger. Today, as the survey shows, the influx of refugees scares 65% of Belgians, notably due to the equation refugee = Muslim = terrorist. 4 in 10 indeed believe that the Muslim community is complicit in terrorist acts and only 1/3 that she is a victim. 

Don't Muslims accept Belgian laws?

The survey also asked a sample of 400 Muslim residents for their perception of Belgium and their integration in the country. The great majority seem to have a lifestyle that is quite similar to that of the rest of the population. Around 30% of the sample however don't like the Western way of life (women's autonomy, eroticism, alcohol , etc.), prefer a political system “inspired by the Koran” and believe in the supremacy of Islamic rules on the nation’s laws. Many Researchers deplore that questions about Western values were only asked to Muslims, as it participates in creating stigmatisation. For sociologist Corinne Torrekens, the aspiration for a political system inspired by the Koran is more ideal than concrete.

In this increasing ambient xenophobia, Muslims are afraid of the hatred against them (65% against 53% before the attacks). "The fundamental difference between yesterday and today is that on the one hand immigration was not a central concern and on the other hand it was not focused on religion (Muslims), says Benoît Scheuer.

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