A glimpse of Muslims in Belgium


With hundreds of thousands of Muslims of ‏ ‏different origins living in Belgium, the kingdom is showing how various ‏religions can, though seen tough sometimes, co-exist in a single pluralist ‏country.‏ Moroccans and Turks account for almost 85 percent of the Muslim population ‏ nationwide. The remaining includes Albanians, Iranians, and Senegalese and from North African countries like Tunisia, Algeria and Libya.‏ The constitution of Belgium allows the freedom of religious and freedom of ‏expression.‏ This fact allows Muslims to establish worship places. Mosques are ‏established nationwide and can, for example, be seen in the capital, Brussels, ‏and the second largest city, Anvers.‏ ‏

In the final years of the 20th century, Belgium counts some 290 places of ‏Islamic worship.‏ A historic glance of the Muslims in Belgium and Europe in general shows ‏that in the second half of this century with the post-war decolonization era, a massive immigration started to take place of cheap laborers from the ‏ ‏

Mediterranean countries, turning Islam into reality in Western Europe.‏ Immigrants were not highly educated and Europe was an attractive ‏ ‏money-making place. In Belgium now, the fourth generation of those immigrants has ‏‏the Belgian nationality as their elders and enjoy full rights of native ‏Belgians.‏ ‏

The European Union (EU) Muslims stand at around 20 million people.‏ Studies showed that Muslims and their mosques are concentrated in the towns, where symbolic attributes of Islamic faith and culture are becoming ‏‏more and more conspicuous in urban environment.‏

The fact that number of Muslims in Belgium and indeed in Europe is ‏increasing triggered more space where Muslims, Christians, Jews and ‏ secularists co-exist.‏ The growing number of Muslims in EU countries encouraged European ‏ ‏governments to grant them rights in relations with education, religious and ‏political activities.‏ Many Europeans, with non-european origins, are politicians and some, in the ‏ ‏case of Belgium, were granted ministerial portfolios in the government.‏ ‏

The number of Muslim inhabitants in Belgium is growing, though this ‏swelling includes legal and illegal persons.‏ The criterion of nationality is becoming less and people originating from ‏Muslim countries progressively acquire Belgian nationality.‏ The number of Muslims in Belgian increased by some 100,000 people from the ‏‏early 1990s until now.‏ ‏It is undeniable that Islam has become widely embraced in the ‏Belgian society. It represents the second largest religious denomination of ‏ ‏the country, outnumbering Protestants and Jews.‏ ‏

Since 1975, teaching of Islam was introduced in public schools on the same ‏basis as the other religions.‏ At the meantime, some 700 Muslim teachers are giving Islamic instruction in ‏ ‏both primary and secondary schools. A new law has recently paved the way for ‏Muslims to have burial sections in local cemeteries.‏ ‏

European Muslims are now taking up their responsibilities in all domains in ‏their communities as full-fledged Muslim citizens.‏ They will contribute positively and decisively to the realization of a ‏better integration and more harmonious European society.


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