Fewer than one in five Flemish Belgians consider Islamic values compatible with their own way of life, a survey has found, with many Muslim migrants saying Islam is more important than Belgian law.
Large-scale Muslim immigration into Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern region of Belgium, means Islam is now the largest minority religion after Catholicism, forming about 3.9 per cent of the general population and 25 per cent of the population in Brussels, a French-speaking enclave and the capital city of the European Union (EU).
A poll of close to 4,500 Flemish Belgians and Brussels residents with Belgian, Turkish, Moroccan, Polish, Romanian, and Congolese backgrounds found just 18 per cent thought Islamic values “go well” with Western society.
Even among Belgians with a Moroccan background, 40 per cent did not agree that Muslims adapt well to Western life, De Morgen reports.
Flemish Belgians of a Polish and Romanian background were even more skeptical about Islam, with just 11 and 9 per cent of the two group saying Muslims could thrive in Western society, respectively.
— Liesbeth Homans (@LiesbethHomans) May 8, 2018
Flemish politician Liesbeth Homans, a member of Belgium’s largest party, the right-wing New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) and a Flemish vice minister-president, commissioned the study.
Ms. Homans responded to an article claiming the studies showed the Flemish are racist on Twitter, commenting: “Here we go again… People get tired of this! To put faith above the law seems to me to be a real problem!”
The survey also found that many people with a migrant background thought that religion, and presumably by extension sharia law, came before the values of the nation-state.
It found that 39 per cent of Flemish people with a Turkish background said they believe religion to be more important than the local, secular, law.
A slightly lower proportion of people with Moroccan backgrounds (23 per cent) and Congolese backgrounds (19 per cent) agreed.
However, among the younger generation, most survey respondents said religion should adapt to secular Belgian law.