1. Everyone, by now, is familiar with the
thesis of Samuel Huntington, professor at Harvard University, of the coming
"clash of civilizations"(1). Starting
from the view that conflict, in our world, frequently arises along cultural
"fault-lines" that were historically established, Huntington calls
for Western vigilance vis-à-vis the threat going out from the combined
forces of Islamic and Confucianist civilizations. Communism having been
defeated, the "clash" with the new contenders is looming,
in his view, if not already going on at the border-lines(2).
The Muslim world in particular looks like heading for a confrontation with
the West: Islam, as Huntington puts it, has bloody borders(3).
The Bosnian war which was denounced by many as a downright case of anti-Muslim
genocide, according to Huntington was just the kind of violent "border
clash" that is confirming his view - the front zone between the two
opposing blocs here being located on the European continent itself.
Huntington's alarmist rhetoric, of course, can
be seen - and by many Muslims usually is seen - as just a continuation
of the age-old Christian hostility to Islamic religion and culture. In
the West itself it is often perceived as an understandable response to
the threat of Muslim invasion that already goes back to the early Middle
Ages. We would make a mistake, though, if we would stop here - that is,
if we did not pay attention to the peculiarities of modern anti-Islamism
in the West(4). This modern hostility to
Islam and to Muslims (religious themes as such becoming non-issues in a
secularized society) was first developed during the 19th century. It was
closely linked, at that time, to the newly created racial theories as well
as to Europe's new humanist sciences, and as such it is still fully active
today, with the construction of European unity. The persistent refusal,
for example, by a significant number of Belgian political parties to grant
the right to vote to so-called "non-E.U. citizens" - i.e. mostly
residents of Turkish or Moroccon origin - is there to prove it.
2. "Butcher of Hellenism": in such
unflattering terms Islam was stigmatized by one of the leading masters
of modern classical philology: the German scholar, Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903)(5).
Eighty years earlier, in 1814, another "founding father" of the
same classical studies, Barthold Niebuhr (1776-1831), already called for
a European war against Islam(6). These and
other German scholars certainly stood not alone in their anti-Islamism.
Their French colleague, Ernest Renan (1823-1892), the famous freethinker
and founder of Semitic philology, was a match for them in his rhetoric
on the unbridgeable opposition between Islam and ancient Greek - and thus:
European - "rationality". Renan, it is true, did contribute to a kind of
rediscovery of Muslim philosophy (falsafa) with his famous book
on Averroes(7). At the same time, though,
he propagated a kind of philological version of the "theory on race" that
was developed by his close friend, the Comte de Gobineau(8).
Renan, indeed, having lost his Christian faith,
made philology into a new kind of "religion". In doing this he was inspired
by the philosophy of Romanticism, viz. the belief that (1) each nation
or culture possesses its own particular "spirit" or nature(9);
(2) that this nature coincides with the specific characteristics of its
language; and (3) that as a consequence the study of language is the road
to all "truth". In 1855, in his work on Semitic linguistics, he concluded
that Jews as well as Muslims were insurmountably inferior to the so-called
Aryans(10). In his inaugural speech of
1862, at the Collège de France, as well as in his conference of
1883, at the Sorbonne, on "Islamism and Science",he proclaimed that
Islam, because of its fanaticism and dogmatism was by its essence incapable
of rationalism, science or philosophy. "Islamism" as a religion
could very well contain "nice parts", so he said, but to human reason
it only had proved to be obnoxious. The future for mankind, as a consequence,
lay with "Aryan" Europe - on one condition, though: that the Semitic
element in European culture (i.e. Christianity) as well as the theocratic
power of Islam would be destroyed(11).
3. The 19th century, besides being the age
of the so-called humanist sciences (philology, comparative linguistics,
history, history of religions, etc.), was at the same time the age of European
colonialism(12). Since colonial expansion
was "the background of all relations with Islam in the nineteenth century",
traditional anti-Islamism was rationalized by leading academics into an
ideological legitimation of Europe's colonial wars(13).
Its culminating construction was the concept of the so-called "homo
islamicus" - a racist stereotype which is even today upheld in some
academic circles(14). It was also strengthened
by bourgeois nationalist ideologies, with their common myth of an originally
monocultural European civilization: the myth, that is, of a "white" and
"Christian" Europe, heir to the equally "white" civilization of the ancient
Greeks. This self-image, of course, was and is a kind of self-deceit: from
a cultural as well as ethnical point of view, historical Europe always
was (and always will be) characterized by a plurality of traditions; it
was and always will be the product of immigrations. Greek mythology, quite
rightly therefore, portrayed "Europe", who was abducted by the Olympian
God Zeus in the guise of bull, as the daughter of a Phoenician, i.e. a
From their very beginnings, Muslim religion and
culture were a formative component in Europe's civilization process. This
went hand in hand with Hellenic, Christian, Jewish and secular traditions.
Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes), a citizen of Cordoba, was as much
a "European" as was the Christian theologian, Thomas of Aquino. The Mesquita
in Cordoba, the Alhambra of Granada, the bridge of Mostar (now destroyed,
alas), the Selimiye Camisi of Edirne... they all belong to Europe's
cultural heritage as much as do the Parthenon of Athens or the Early Renaissance
painting by Van Eyck, "The Adoration of the Lamb", in Ghent. So,
we should indeed, I believe, "make a case for speaking of European civilization
as the Jewish-Christian-Muslim civilization"(15).
However, upon the creation of the Spanish nation-state
in the 16th and 17th centuries, all traces of Muslims and of a public Islam
in the West were "ethnically cleansed". While a form of crypto-Islam was
living on, for a couple of centuries public European Islam was restricted
to South-Eastern and Central Europe.
Muslims in Belgium Today.
1. In the second half of this century, post-war
decolonization and most of all the massive immigration of labourers from
the Mediterranean countries once again turned Islam into a Western European
reality. In these closing years of the century Islam in South-Eastern Europe
is more than ever cornered into a defensive position(16).
In the core countries, however, of the European Union Muslims are counted
in the millions (actually, they are estimated at nine or ten million, i.e.
roughly the same number as in Eastern Europe)(17),
and Islam is engaged in a process of institutionalization in the midst
of secularized societies. Christianity, actually, in Western societies
is more and more receding to the countryside, whereas Islam is manifesting
itself as an urban phenomenon: Muslims as well as their mosques
are concentrated in the towns and the symbolic attributes of Islamic faith
and culture are becoming more and more conspicuous in this urban environment.
As a consequence, more than ever before Europe is becoming a space were
Islamic, Christian, Jewish and secular traditions come together "to
fight, support and fertilize each other"(18).
When we would accept the thesis of Huntington,
this would mean that the "battle line" between the West and Islam is no
longer located between the continents or between different parts of the
European continent, but is actually running through our very towns and
societies in Western Europe itself. Are we heading then, after a phase
of international "clashes" (Iran, the Gulf War…), for a kind of "civil
war" in Western society itself? And the "Muslims" in our societies:
i.e. the Turks, the Moroccans and the others, naturalized or not, are they
correctly imagined, as right-wing extremist parties would have it, as "the
enemies from within"? And are they, thus, eventually to be driven out
again - just like once the Moriscos in Spain, at the beginning of the 17th
There is no denying that there are indeed signs
that would superficially seem to confirm such a bellicose reading. E.g.
the riots and confrontations between Muslim youngsters and the police which
on a more or less regular base break out in our towns. Just a few days
ago(20), for example, this was the case
in the (small) Flemish town of Lokeren; it made the Catholic Mayor of Lokeren
declare a regime of "zero tolerance". Or, taking a still more conspicuous
example: the "iron wall" that was built in Anderlecht (Brussels), dividing
(i.e. protecting) the "white" part of the town from its poorer, "Muslim"
part (the so-called Kuregem district).
Already, a new racism is legitimizing this progressive
polarization between the so-called autochthonous population and the so-called
immigrants(21), not only in Belgium but
in other European countries as well. This new racism, which is actually
accompanying the construction of the European unity, can be identified
as anti-Muslimism(22). While it
is being constructed along the selfsame lines as the anti-Semitism in the
Thirties(23), this new European racism
is based on the ethnicization of cultural, i.e. religious differences
between "Europeans" and "Muslims". It operates by identifying "Turk" and
"Muslim", "Moroccan" and "Muslim", and generally "immigrant" and "Muslim".
As Fred Halliday formulates it(24),"it
involves not so much hostility to Islam as a religion (...) but hostility
to Muslims, to communities of peoples whose sole or main religion
is Islam and whose Islamic character, real or invented, forms one of the
objects of prejudice". Feeding on this anti-Muslimism and fuelling
it at the same time, right-wing extremist parties are exploiting the situation,
in Belgium as well as in other countries of the E.U., in order to destabilize
democracy and to win popular votes(25).
Nevertheless, there are also more positive signs
that could point into another direction, viz. that of a democratic society
willing to really assume its cultural and ethnic pluralism. This implies
of course that there be put an end to all discrimination against Muslims,
and also that Muslim inhabitants, especially youngsters, get the chance
to contribute to the social developments of their country.
2. The number of Muslim inhabitants in Belgium
- i.e. of people either having an immigrant Muslim background and/or considering
themselves Muslim (converts included) - is fast growing. Of course, actual
figures are necessarily inaccurate, for (a) the criterion of nationality
is becoming less and less relevant as people originating from Muslim countries
progressively acquire Belgian nationality; (b) the definition of Muslim
identity has inevitably many nuances, going from strictly practising believers
to laics and agnostics(26). In the early
Nineties, the total number of people in Belgium with a Muslim cultural
background was estimated at 285.000(27)
- i.e. more than 2,5% of the total population. At this moment, the number
is going beyond the 350.000. Approximately a third of the total number
is of Turkish origin. Roughly 50% of this Turkish population is living
in Flanders, 25% is living in Brussels and another 25% in Wallony.
Concurrently with this demographic growth, there
has been a proliferation of mosques and Islamic prayer-halls. Most of them
have been founded on mono-ethnical, i.e. national, and mono-denominational
grounds, and almost all of them are expressive of a "masculine Islam"(28).
In these final years of the 20th century, Belgium counts some 290 places
of Islamic worship: slightly more than a third of them, are "Turkish".
Of the Turkish mosques more than two thirds are presided over, or at least
controlled by the Directorate of Religious Affairs of the Turkish
government (Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı), while some 25 of them are
controlled by the so-called fundamentalist Millî Görüş.
Taken together with the Arabic mosques (the larger
number of which is of Moroccan affiliation), all this has resulted in an
infrastructure of Belgian mosques "with a density that is almost comparable
with that of the countries of origin"(29).
3. Whatever the precise figures may be, it is undeniable
that Islam has become "a widely embraced, collective reality in the
midst of Belgian society"(30). Quantitatively,
moreover, it represents the second largest religious denomination of the
country(31); or to put it otherwise: Islam
is the largest minority religion in Belgium, far outnumbering Protestants,
The settlement of a large Muslim population in
Belgium being an irreversible social phenomenon, the major question that
had (and has) to be faced by a society that considers itself to be democratic
and pluralist, is the one concerning the social place and space on the
cultural scene that one is willing to concede to these cultural and ethnic
minorities. Will one actually allow these new segments of one's population
to maintain - be it in interaction with their European secular environment
- their collective cultural and religious identity? At last, this
would be in accordance with the basic human rights that are upheld by the
Belgian Constitution and by the international treaties that Belgium has
signed. Or will one demand, out of irrational fear for the future survival
of the secular state (if not of "the West"), that Muslims accept a kind
of privatization or secularization of Islam - something that, for the great
majority of them at least, would be tantamount to demanding that they abandon
their religion?(32) Clearly, the fact that
Turkey constitutionally presents itself as a secular state, is of little
practical relevance to Turkish people living in Belgium, the great mass
of them having emigrated from the rural regions of Turkey.
4. There is no denying that, from the perspective
of basic human rights, the Belgian state made a good start when in 1974
(19th July) - i.e. almost a quarter of a century ago, already - it passed
a law granting Islamic worship the same status as that accorded to religions
historically established in the country: Catholicism(33),
Protestantism and Judaism(34). The immediate
and most spectacular effect of this official recognition was the introduction
(since 1975-76) of the teaching of Islam in public schools, on the same
basis as the other religions. At present, there are about 700 Muslim teachers
giving Islamic instruction in both primary and secondary schools, their
(modest) salaries being paid by the Belgian state(35).
The persisting deficiencies in their pecuniary and professional status
are imputed to the absence of a representative body for the whole Belgian
Muslim community. This representative body is required by the law, and
should at least for matters concerning the so-called temporalities function
as an analogue of the "head of cult" of the Catholic community.
The law of 1974 also allowed for financial provisions
to be made for the costs of the infrastructure (the construction and maintenance
of places of worship) and the "personnel" of the cult (e.g. the salaries
and pensions of the Imams). The importance of these religious "engagements"
by the Belgian state - which is officially a secular state based on the
principle of separation between "church" and "state" - is measured when
one considers that in this way the Belgian Catholic Church is annually
receiving a total provision of no less than about 10 billion Belgian Francs.
This sum is paid, of course, by the Belgian taxpayer - that is by non-Catholics,
e.g. by Muslims, as well... As for Islamic worship, this kind of advantageous
treatment, although provided for by the law of 1974, has still not yet
been put into effect. So, for a quarter of a century, Muslim inhabitants
have financially contributed to a system they themselves have been excluded
from. The reason for this unhappy state of affairs is officially the same
one as that for the deficiencies in the status of the Islamic teachers:
viz. that it requires the identification of a Muslim authority, an issue
which until this moment, for a lot of reasons, had remained unresolved.
5. This financial discrimination against Belgian
Muslims was accompanied, all these years, by violations against the basic
rights of religious freedom which in principle are guaranteed by the Belgian
Constitution. E.g. the right to be buried according to your philosophical
or religious faith: generally, Muslims in Belgium as yet did not have the
possibility of burying their beloved ones in the cemetery of their own
place of residence. The same goes for religious rights at school, in prison,
in hospital: e.g. the right to eat food that is prepared according to your
religious prescriptions; the right of safeguarding yourself against violations
of your physical integrity - e.g. by wearing a head-scarf and modest dress;
the right to celebrate your religious feasts, etc. These infringements
must be taken together with the usually negative coverage of Islam by the
press and the other media; the regular conflicts in schools (e.g. around
the scarf - "the war of the veils", as it was called in France);
the systematic stigmatizing of Islamic values and symbols as being obstacles
for a smoothly integration of Muslim immigrants; and, of course, the many
forms of "daily racism" being perpetrated by officials, for example by
members of the police force, etc. Put together, all these facts contribute
to make the relationship between the majority and the Muslim minority a
It goes without saying that this situation puts
a heavy pressure on the peaceful coexistence between the different communities,
and as a consequence on the democratic and pluralist future of Belgian
society as well. A few months ago, actually, a report was published presenting
the results of a research project conducted at the German university of
Bielefeld. It concerns the attitudes among German youths of Turkish origin
between 15 and 21 years of age. The results are alarming. These youngsters,
according to the director of the project, Prof.Dr.Wilhelm Heitmeyer, are
becoming more and more "fundamentalist", i.e. they are more and
more prone to use violence on religious grounds, because they are experiencing
difficulties while trying to integrate into society. The reason, though,
for the disturbing findings is nót religion, i.e. Islam: it is rather European
society itself which, according to Prof. Heitmeyer, is thwarting that process
of integration. Not only Turkish youngsters in Germany, indeed, are confronted
with this problem, but Muslim immigrants in all the countries of Europe.
These youngsters should be full members of our society, but in reality
they are constantly feeling expelled and rejected(36).
It should be clear by now that the refusal of Western
secular society to allow immigrants from Muslim countries, especially the
youngsters of the second and third generation, to express their Muslim
identity - e.g. by refusing Muslim girls and young women the right to wear
a head-scarf at school -, is one of the reasons why the relationship between
non-Muslim majority and Muslim minority is worsening.
Luckily, there are also signs of a more positive
attitude. The Belgian government, for one, has recently accepted a proposal
for the organization of elections for a representative council of the Belgian
Muslim communities. Once put into place at the end of 1998, this council
- i.e. the new "Executive of the Muslims of Belgium" - offers at
least the perspective that the institutional (and financial) situation
of Belgian Islam one day will be finally regularized. Also, most recently,
a new law has been accepted on burial places. Muslim sections in local
cemeteries will become possible from now on.
Still, equality of treatment at the institutional
level, if ever realized, does not suffice to enable Islam to develop its
spiritual and social potential within a secularized society - in the first
place, but not exclusively, for the benefit of the youngsters of the second
and third generation. Therefore, it will not be enough to reduce anti-Muslimism
and racism to a marginal phenomenon. Besides taking the necessary social
measures (in order to reduce, e.g. the high unemployment figures among
the immigrant population), an efficient anti-racist policy requires the
introduction of a whole set of measures in the cultural domain as well:
e.g. in the media, but most of all in education. E.g. in the secondary
schools (lise), Arabic and Turkish should be introduced as optional
languages for all pupils; the history and culture of the Mediterranean
countries of origin and the history of immigrations in Belgium and Europe
should receive a place in our schools' curricula; a comparative history
of religions should be offered, etc., etc. The final goal should be the
"interculturalization" of Belgian society at large.
At the level of intellectual culture, an important
condition for really "embedding" Islam in Western society is that a program
of Islamic studies should be introduced at university level. At this moment
more than 350.000 Muslims (or people with a Muslim background) live in
Belgium and their number is growing. If the younger generations are not
provided with an up-to-date knowledge of their religion and of their cultural
heritage, they will lack the intellectual tools required to create a place
of their own in Western society. For many decades, now, the process of
Muslim integration in our secular societies has been going on. Muslim youngsters
should get the chance to contribute to social developments in a context
where their Islamic identity is respected. This means taking up their social
responsibilities as full-fledged Muslim citizens in a society which
is theirs as well.
Islam is a universal as well as (among others)
a European religious tradition. For the sake of Muslims, but also for that
of European society in general, its study should be freed from the historicist
and colonial shackles of academic Orientalism. The education and training of
culama, or Muslim scholars, as experts on the Qur'an, the hadith and
other sources of Islam will enable Islam to develop concepts of responsible
citizenship on the basis of ijtihad, especially if this training
also aims at a thorough understanding of the prevailing social circumstances
in Europe. European Muslims, it should be said, whatever their ethnic affiliation,
are actually playing an active role in this process of cultural and social
interaction, by creating - or cooperating to create - new academic institutions(37).
Within the space of an academic department and
on the basis of an all-round curriculum (which includes training in the
relevant cultural and social sciences) Muslim scholars will be equipped
with the specific knowledge and skills required to deal adequately with
the concerns of Muslims living in European societies. As for their strictly religious
training and recognition, Muslim graduates will of course turn to their
own religious community (as is the case for their Catholic, Protestant,
Humanist and other colleagues).
On a basis of equality with graduates of other
creeds and world views, Muslim academic graduates, men and women, will
be able to pursue a public career of imam, teacher, spiritual councillor,
etc. Provided as they will be with specific skills and expertise, they
will take care of their co-believers and of other fellow-citizens: the
elder, the sick, the younger, etc. Thus, they will contribute positively
and decisively to the realization of a better integrated and more harmonious
Ghent, July 1998.
Bastenier, Albert (1988), Islam in Belgium:
Contradictions and Perspectives, in: Gerholm & Lithman, pp. 133-143.
Ballard, Roger (1996), Islam and the Construction
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the web, URL:
Beedham, Brian (1994), A Survey of Islam. Not
again, for heaven's sake, in: The Economist (Surveys), August 6th 1994.
Bernal, Martin (1991), Black Athena. The Afroasiatic
Roots of Classical Civilization, vol. 1: The Fabrication of Ancient Greece,
Daniel, Norman (1993), Islam and the West. The
Making of an Image. Oxford.
Dassetto, F. & G.Nonneman (1996), Islam
in Belgium and the Netherlands: Towards a Typology of 'Transplanted' Islam,
in: Nonneman, Niblock & Szajkowski, pp. 187-217.
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ou conflit d'intérèts?, in: M.Dureas (ed.),Xoc de civilitzacions
(Barcelona), pp. 324-331.
Gerholm, T., & Y.G. Lithman, edd. (1988),The
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Koningsveld, P.Sjoerd van (1995), "Islam in
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J.L.Esposito, New York & Oxford 1995), vol. II, pp. 290-296.
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of racist and nationalist ideas in Europe, London.
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Rea, Andrea (1998b), Le racisme européen ou
la fabrication du "sous-blanc", in: Rea (1998a), pp. 167-201.
Rodinson, Maxime (1974), The Western Image and
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Legacy of Islam (Oxford), pp. 9-62
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Conceptions of the Orient. Penguin Books.
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immigré" en Flandre 1930-1980, in: Rea (1998a), pp. 107-130.
1. See S.P.Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations?
2. The so-called "red peril", i.e. Communism,
having disappeared, the "yellow peril" of Asia and the "green"
one of Islam have thus been fused in Huntington's idea of the "clash". On
this use of colours by European thought in order to construct its identity,
see M.A.El Jabri, Choc des civilizations ou conflit d'intérèts?
(1997), p. 327.
3. For a succinct but outstanding critical discussion
of Huntington's thesis as applied to the relationship between "Islam
and the West", see Brian Beedham (1994).
4. F.Halliday, Islam and the Myth of Confrontation.
Religion and Politics in the Middle East. (1996), p. 161.
5. In his Römische Geschichte, V (1894),
6. As for Niebuhr's view of the science of history,
in his opinion, "race... was the primary base on which all history is
founded and the first principle according to which she has to operate" (thus
in a letter). His belief in the "Aryan race" not only made him call
for a war against Islam: in his academic lectures he also defended European
colonialism in general. In his opinion, "European domination meant support
for science and literature, just as for human rights; to prevent the destruction
of a barbaric power would mean an act of high treason against intellectual
culture and humanity". See the quotations in Martin Bernal, Black
Athena (1991), pp. 304-306.
7. "Averroès et l'Averroïsme" (Paris 1852;
1861). But Averroes, or better: Ibn Rushd (born in Cordoba in 1126; he
died in 1198, in Marrakech), anachronistically was made into a fore-runner
of Renans own (anti-religious) rationalism. "Averroes, the free-thinker",
is a spectre that today still haunts some academic circles in the West.
8. See his notorious essay,"The Inequality
of Human Races", 1853-55. Joseph Arthur, Comte de Gobineau (1816-1882)
is described in encyclopedias as a "French orientalist, diplomat and
9. E.g. Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803), with
his ideas on "the nation" ("das Volk"), as the "source of all
truth". See e.g. A.Hourani, Islam in European thought(1992),
10. For Renan, see Hourani, o.c., pp. 28-29; E.W.Said,
(1991), ch. 2, 'II. Silvestre de Sacy and Ernest Renan: Rational Anthropology
and Philological Laboratory", pp. 123-148; also A.Merad, L'Islam
contemporain (1992), pp. 40-42).
11. For "Aryanism", see L.Poliakov, The
Aryan Myth: a history of racist and nationalist ideas in Europe (1974).
12. In 1855, at the Conference of Berlin, European
colonial powers divided the African continent among themselves.
13. N.Daniel, Islam and the West (1993),
p. 327. See also M.Rodinson, The Western Image and Western Studies of
Islam (1974), p. 49; R.Ballard, Islam and the Construction of Europe
14. Cf. Rodinson, o.c., p. 48: "In the Middle
Ages, the Oriental had been regarded as a fierce enemy, but nevertheless
on the same level as Western man; in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment
and the resulting ideology of the French Revolution the Oriental was, underneath
his disguise, essentially a human being; now he became a creature apart,
imprisoned in his specificity, an object of condenscending praise. Thus
the concept of homo islamicus was born, and is still far from being
15. T.Gerholm & Y.G. Lithman, The New Islamic
Presence in Western Europe (1988), Introduction, p. 2: "One
could make a case for speaking of European civilization as the Jewish-Christian-Muslim
16. Even its future survival seems at stake: after
Bosnia, Kosovo is presently the next "stop" in the anti-Muslim "cleansing"
process. See the contributions on Eastern Europe in: G.Nonneman, T.Niblock
& B.Szajkowski (edd.), Muslim Communities in the New Europe
17. See P.S.van Koningsveld, "Islam in Europe",i n:
OEMIW, vol. II, p. 290.
18. Gerholm & Lithman, o.c., p. 3.
19. For this "expulsion model", as a typical
European "logic of racism", see A.Rea, Le racisme européen ou
la fabrication du "sous-blanc" (1998), p. 182.
20. My contribution was written in the second
half of June 1998.
21. Actually, most of these youngsters were born
here, as second or third generation immigrants.
22. The term "anti-Muslimism" was introduced
by Halliday (1996), p. 160, in order "to signify... a diffuse ideology,
one rarely expressed in purely religious terms, but usually mixed in with
other rhetorics and ideologies...".
23. See Marc Swyngedouw,La construction du
"péril immigré" en Flandre 1930-1980 (1998), pp. 107-130.
24. Halliday, l.c.
25. The strength of racist feelings in many countries
of the E.U. was openly displayed with the opinion poll that was organized
by the European Commission, at the closing of the "European Year against
Racism", see Racism and Xenophobia, Eurobarometer Opinion Poll,nr.
47.1, presented in Luxemburg, 18-19 December 1997. The Belgians, on most
of the questions, scored the highest figures: all in all, 55% of the questioned
Belgians recognized being "racist" (48% in France, 42% in Austria). For
an analysis of the figures, see the contribution of Andrea Rea (1998b).
26. For a typology into four categories, see Shadid,
W.A.R. & P.S. van Koningsveld, Religious Freedom and the Position
of Islam in Western Europe (1995), p. 3. See also F.Dassetto &
G.Nonneman, Islam in Belgium and the Netherlands: Towards a Typology
of 'Transplanted' Islam (1996), pp. 187-217.
27. Figures taken from Shadid & Van Koningsveld
(1995), p. 3.
28. A.Bastenier, Islam in Belgium: Contradictions
and Perspectives (1988), p. 136, who sees "a tendency for the masculinization
of the places of worship under the conditions of immigration".
29. Bastenier, o.c., p. 135.
30. Bastenier, o.c., p. 133.
31. The largest one, in principle at least, being
Roman Catholicism: the official number of Belgian Catholics is 8 million,
but these figures are fictitious, for they are based on the institutionally
still privileged position of the Church (all Belgians counting "by birth"
32. Bastenier, o.c., p. 142.
33. But, as we already said, Catholicism, in the
aftermath of the cleaning up of the effects of the French Revolution, was
and still is allowed a special, privileged status, in comparison with all
other denominations in Belgium.
34. Since then, Orthodox Christianity and Humanism
as well have been given the same status as the other "recognized" religions.
35. Or, being more precise: by the communities
(the Flemish, the Walloon and the German) making up the Belgian federal
state. One should notice, though, that public education, in Belgium, reaches
only about 25% of the total school population - almost all the rest having
been appropriated by so-called "free", i.e. catholic institutions (which
are paid by the state as well).
36. For a survey of the situation of Muslims in
the countries of the E.U., see also the contributions in W.A.R. Shadid and
P.S. van Koningsveld (1996).
37. Examples of this are: the Universidad Islámica
Internacional Averroes de al-Andalus (in Cordoba); the recent creation
of the Islamic University of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands; the
creation of a Centre for Islam in Europe, at the University of Ghent
(Belgium), which is staffed by Muslims and non-Muslims.