Moroccans are now the largest group of immigrants in Belgium, overpassing Italians according to sociologist Jan Hertogen. He speaks of "a historic moment". For his research he used numbers from Belgian government statistics.
On January 1st, 2004 there were 264,974 Moroccans and 262,120 Italians in Belgium, including both foreigners and New Belgians. That's according to statistics received by Jan Hertogen. The statistics did not count the children of Belgian citizens.
Hertogen sees a parallel between the Italian immigration wave that started in 1920 and the Moroccan wave that started in 1960. But while the Italian immigration had gone down since 1980 (due to return of Italians and a lower birth rate) the Moroccan immigration wave will peak only in 2016, according to Hertogen. Another significant difference is that 70% of Moroccans get Belgian citizenship while by Italians that's the case only by 30%
According to Hertogen, the rising total of immigrants, especially from Morocco, will have an impact on the political landscape. The impact will be less noticeable in the upcoming federal elections but rather in the municipal elections in 2012. "In five to ten years a number of Moroccan mayors will certainly emerge."
After Moroccans and Italians, the largest group in Belgium is the Turks with 159,336. Hertogen expects a peak there also in another eight years. The French 145,556 and Dutch 126,447 form the largest European immigrant groups.
The top ten list consists also of Spanish (55,686), Germans (43,392), Congolese (42,068), Portugese (33,326) and British (30,987). The growing group of Poles comes number 11 with 25,545. According to Hertogen that total number of immigrants is 1,569,909 (foreigners and New Belgians) [ed: which amounts to 15% of the total population]
Hertogen also examined the man/women distribution by foreigners. The numbers confirm the phenomenon of marriage immigration by Thai and Filipinos foreigners. More than 80% of Thai foreigners and more than 70% of Filipino foreigners are women.
Belgian Statistics are reserved about Hertogen's report. "The numbers that Hertogen used are generally right, but are not the full official number. In this way he counted naturalizations without for example taking into account deaths of people who emigrated again."
Source: HLN (Dutch)
See also: Brussels: 56.5% immigrant population, Belgium: Vlaams Belang's lose accounted by immigrant vote