Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Survey: 70% of Belgium’s Muslims Struggling after Brussels Attacks | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Belgian soldiers and a police officer patrol in central Brussels, November 21, 2015. Photo by Youssef

Brussels- A survey conducted by the Belgian newspaper “Lesoir” and the Francophone TV “RTBF” shows that after the Brussels attacks in March 2016, many Belgian Muslim youths have been concerned that they would be accused of having links with extremists and terrorists.

The survey’s results came as follow: 70% of Muslims in Belgium see that Belgians consider them possible terrorists; 63% of them have been concerned from the flow of refugees because they feel that they will be targeted as Muslims; and 77% feel unwelcomed because their lives have changed.

These results came amid an announcement by the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism in Brussels on the growing threats against Muslims and the expansion of Islamophobia amid political turmoil. The center said that all parties are responsible for what happened.

The camera of a TV program wandered in the capital, mainly in neighborhood resided by Muslims and sought to now their feelings and their living conditions amid terrorist attacks. People’s answers differed, as many said that conditions differ between different areas in Brussels.

Results show that Muslims always feel targeted by the police in their investigations. One of the survey’s participants said that he was once arrested in a train station in the north of Brussels because he had a large travel bag; another individual said that he feels proud of being a Belgian Muslim; a woman who doesn’t wear a veil said that she has been treated friendly, but she assumed that things would have been different had she been veiled.

The total average of reports received by concerned centers on racism-related incidents in the Muslim community during 2016 was not announced; however, the report issued in 2015 shed lights on tensions dominating the Belgian community and on the growing phenomenon of discrimination based on ethnicity and religion; the majority of complaints were submitted by Muslims who faced racism in work, residence, and even on the internet.

On the other hand, sources have admitted this problem and stressed the importance of finding the right solutions. Yet they considered that the announced figures are exaggerated, and accused the media of being the major responsible of fear feelings among Muslims.

MP Fouad Ahidar, who belongs to the Communist Party, told Asharq Al-Awsat that complaints were not only made to the above-mentioned center, as many of them were also submitted in police stations. He added that Muslims around the world have suffered from racism and that a number of Muslims may be responsible for such attitude against them as a result of their wrong acts. The media also plays a major role because it focuses on the negative aspect of a story, said Ahidar.

The report released by the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism concluded by saying that religion-based discrimination in Belgium has grown by 78% over the past five years. However, the report also stressed positive factors including the drop in anti-semitic incidents.