Islamophobia in Belgium: National Report 2017




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Technical Report

Peer reviewed



During 2017, Islamophobia in Belgium has continued to grow at a steady rate. The most notable difference between the state of Islamophobia in the country and that documented in the European Islamophobia Report in previous years can be located in the lack of marked peaks or sizeable clusters in violent attacks against Muslims, Islam- ic sites or those presumed to be Muslim. However, this does not indicate an absence of Islamophobia rather it indicates a continuation of low level violent Islamophobic attacks, a growth in Islamophobic hate speech and most notably numerous state-level Islamophobic policies, legislative measures and proposals throughout 2017. As in previous years, Islamophobia in Belgium has continued to have a distinct- ly gendered nature, with Belgian Muslim women bearing the brunt of Islamophobia in the nation. The most pertinent example of this gendered Islamophobia includes the European Court of Justice preliminary judgements regarding the permissibility of dismissing women who wear the headscarf from employment issued in March 2017 - incidentally this decision was based, in part, on a case that had emerged from the Belgian context. Beyond the continued gendered Islamophobia seen in Belgium during 2017, the year was interspersed with significant state-led policies, bills and legislative mea- sures which sought to regulate the practice of Islam in Belgium, namely the limita- tions on ritual slaughter (including halal slaughter) voted on in May 2017 and July 2017, and the proposed state takeover of the Grand Mosque of Belgium. The bases of Islamophobic narratives remain much the same as in previous years: Islam is framed as constituting demographic, cultural and violent threat and thus it is alleged that Islam and Muslims must be regulated by the state, law and, in some cases, even the lay public. However, as we see from rulings such as that of the European Court of Justice, Belgian Islamophobia has the potential to influence and be influenced by the broader European Islamophobia, and this therefore has the potential to shape the ways in which the phenomenon may be effectively tackled.



Islamophobia, Belgium


Easat-Daas, A. (2017) Islamophobia in Belgium: National Report 2017. In: Enes Bayraklı and Farid Hafez, European Islamophobia Report 2017, Istanbul, SETA, 2018.


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