Belgium: Flemings afraid of Islam

Belgium: Flemings afraid of Islam

Close to half of Flemish voters have an extremely negative opinion of Islam and Muslims.  46% think that Islam has nothing to contribute to European culture.  Barely 18% think that is the case.  Yet more voters (48%) think that Islamic values are a threat for Europe and 37% think the most Muslims have no respect for European culture and way of life.

This according to a study by ISPO (Institute for Social and Political Opinion Research) of KU Leuven.  The team, lead by Jaak Billiet and Marc Swyngedouw, interviewed 1,084 Flemish voters about their voting behavior between September 2007 and January 2008.  The concept of "Islamophobia" and the negative attitude towards Islam were surveyed in the margins of the study.

The harshest statement - Islamic history and culture are more violent than other cultures - was accepted by almost 42% of the interviewees, while barely 21% didn't accept this position.

Regarding family life, 81% of Flemish voters think that Muslim men dominate their wives too much.

The researchers also gauged the voter's attitude towards wearing a headscarf in public functions.  A majority (53%) think Muslim women shouldn't wear a headscarf in public functions.

The attitude of the Flemish voters towards Islam is more negative than the attitude towards ethnic minorities.  ISP studies the attitude towards minorities or immigrants since 1991.  The feelings of economic threat have since then continuously dropped.

From the 2007 study it appears that half of the voters think immigrants aren't a threat for employment.  At the same time, 40% of interviewees hold the view that ethnic minorities don't contribute anything to the prosperity of Belgium.

New immigration is not cheered.  38% is for, 47% are against, even if this will meet the shortage on the job market.  (..)

Since 1991, the feelings of cultural threat have first decreased, just like the feelings of an economic threat.  But since the turn of the millennium they have increased again.  The attacks of 9/11 in 2001 in the US are clearly a turning point.

Youth 18 to 34 are most positive towards immigrants, elderly are most negative.

Sources: HLN, Nieuwsblad (Dutch)

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