Flanders: Attitudes towards immigrants/Muslims

Flanders: Attitudes towards immigrants/Muslims

See also: VRIND 2009 (Dutch)  h/t IIE reader.

The attitude of the Flemish towards immigrants hardly changed in recently years, according to the Flemish Regional Indicators 2009 published today.

The annual VRIND reports offers a slew of indicators on a number of domains.  This year's publications is 400 pages and 700 indicators.  They are based on data from last spring and so before the economic crisis set in in force and everything was fine.  It's expected therefore that next year's report will show a completely different picture for many indicators.

The diversity in Flanders in meanwhile on the increase.  The total number of foreigners has increased by 30% since 2002 and has gone up to 5.8% of the population, which is comparable to neighboring countries.  Counting people of foreign origin, the total comes to about 10%, with concentrations in Genk (46%), Antwerp (26%), and Ghent (16%).  The numbers show that the Flemish don't respond differently to the increasing diversity, though there are big internal differences.  Men, youth and the highly-educated are generally more tolerant.

Half of the Flemish think that the presence of immigrants enriches society and 25% think that they contribute to prosperity, and that they should be received warmly.  Their number has increased in recent years.

On the other hand, 25% remain very distrustful.  They think that immigrants shouldn't be trusted and 20% think that people who belong to ethnic minorities should marry among each other.  The distrust increases with age and is higher among those with lower education.

Moreover, 20% think that Muslim women should always be allowed to wear a headscarf everywhere.  In 2004% that was 25%.  90% of the Flemish think that foreigners should adapt to Flemish society.  Apparently the ethnic Flemish population doesn't have a stand towards non-Christian religions.  Two thirds have no clear standpoint when asked how they see members of non-Christian groups.  The case is different towards Muslims.  30% are negative to very negative and just 14% take a positive attitude.

Nobody thinks the ideal neighborhoods is one with many people of foreign origin.  But almost half of the population will live in a neighborhood where some foreigners live (though not of a different color).

Source: HLN (Dutch)

More data from the report:

The top foreigner groups in Flanders are: 31% Dutch, 8% Moroccans, 7% Italians, 6% Turks and 5% French.  In the past decade the number of Dutch increased by 6 percentage points while the number of Moroccans and Turks went down (8 and7 percentage points), mostly since they've naturalized.  65% of the foreigners in Belgium are from EU countries. 

The top groups of people of foreign origin (foreign nationality, naturalized and Belgian with a foreign mother): 21% Dutch, 15% Moroccans, 13% Turks, 7% Italians and 5% French.  Half come from EU countries.

60% think that the Moroccans and Turks they know are friendly people.  Minorities have more contact with the Flemish than vice-versa.  25% of the Turks and 20% of Moroccans speak every day to their Flemish neighbors.  60% of the Flemish never speak to people of another community. 

All three groups share a progressive attitude on social-economic issues.  On ethical issues Moroccans/Turks are quite conservative while the Flemish are quite progressive.  The Flemish give personal choice a much higher priority when it comes to abortion and euthanasia.  Regarding freedom of speech and the roles of men-women, all three groups are on the progressive side of the scale, though there are differences between them. 

More than 40% of people with foreign origin experienced discrimination last year.  66% of the Moroccans think that the police treats them harsher than the Flemish.  75% think that they're more likely to be discriminated by home owners.  85% think they're portrayed more negatively in the media than the Flemish.  Among Turks the numbers are slightly lower.

Two thirds of the population live in neighborhoods with no minorities.  Most would also keep it that way.  30% live in a neighborhood with some foreigners, 75% of them think it's the ideal neighborhood.  6% live in a neighborhood with many foreigners and 14% think it's an ideal neighborhood.

Attitudes towards immigrants/Muslims:
1. Immigrants contribute to prosperity in our country - 26.4%
2. Immigrants can't be trusted, in general - 25.4%
3. Muslim families are in general very hospitable - 44.8%
4. Immigrants come her to profit from our social security - 49.4%
5. Muslims are a threat to our culture and customs - 42.6%
6. The presence of different culture enriches our society - 51.4%
7. If the number of workplaces deceases, immigrants should be sent back to their own country - 33.5%
8. We should warmly welcome foreigners who want to live to Belgium - 25.9%
9. People who belong to ethnic minorities should marry among each other - 18.7%
10. When people would get to know Turks and Moroccan better they turn out to be friendly people, in general - 58.8%
11. Foreigners who live here should adapt to the culture and customs of our country- 87.7%
12. Muslim women and girls should be allowed to wear a headscarf at all times and everywhere - 19%

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