Communicatie, Informatie, Educatie

• CIE-INDEX • 

Imagining the Muslims in Belgium:

"Enemies from Within" or "Muslim Fellow-Citizens"?*

by Herman De Ley (© 1998)

Introduction.

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 Palestinian king.

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 century(19)?

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, Jews, e.a.

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 disturbed one.

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.




Epilogue.

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 European society.
 

Ghent, July 1998.




Literature.

Bastenier, Albert (1988), Islam in Belgium: Contradictions and Perspectives, in: Gerholm & Lithman, pp. 133-143.

Ballard, Roger (1996), Islam and the Construction of Europe, in: Shadid & Van Koningsveld (1996), pp. 15-51. Available on the web, URL: http://www.art.man.ac.uk/CASAS/pdfpapers/europe.pdf

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, 1785-1985. London.

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.

El Jabri, Mohamed Abed (1997), Choc des civilizations ou conflit d'intérèts?, in: M.Dureas (ed.),Xoc de civilitzacions (Barcelona), pp. 324-331.

Gerholm, T., & Y.G. Lithman, edd. (1988),The New Islamic Presence in Western Europe. London.

Halliday, Fred (1996), Islam and the Myth of Confrontation. Religion and Politics in the Middle East. London.

Hourani, Albert (1992), Islam in European thought. Cambridge.

Huntington, Samuel P. (1993), The Clash of Civilizations?, in: Foreign Affairs, summer 1993.

Koningsveld, P.Sjoerd van (1995), "Islam in Europe", in: The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (ed. J.L.Esposito, New York & Oxford 1995), vol. II, pp. 290-296.

Merad, Ali (1992), L'Islam contemporain.Que sais-je?, Paris.

Nonneman, G. & T.Niblock & B.Szajkowski, edd. (1996), Muslim Communities in the New Europe. Reading.

Poliakov, L. (1974), The Aryan Myth: a history of racist and nationalist ideas in Europe, London.

Rea, Andrea, ed. (1998a), Immigration et Racisme en Europe. Brussels.

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 Western Studies of Islam, in: J.Schacht & C.E.Bosworth (edd.), The Legacy of Islam (Oxford), pp. 9-62

Said, Edward W. (1991), Orientalism. Western Conceptions of the Orient. Penguin Books.

Shadid, W.A.R. & P.S. van Koningsveld (1995), Religious Freedom and the Position of Islam in Western Europe. Opportunities and Obstacles in the Acquisition of Equal Rights. Kampen.

Shadid, W.A.R. & P.S.van Koningsveld, eds. (1996), Muslims in the Margins. Political Responses to the Presence of Islam in Western Europe. Kampen.

Swyngedouw, Marc, La construction du "péril immigré" en Flandre 1930-1980, in: Rea (1998a), pp. 107-130.


Notes.

1. See S.P.Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations? (1993). 

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), p. 611. 

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 philosopher".

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), p. 25. 

10. For Renan, see Hourani, o.c., pp. 28-29; E.W.Said, Orientalism (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 (1996). 

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 overthrown".

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 civilization".

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 (1996). 

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" as Catholics). 

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. 

The present paper was written on invitation in 1998 on behalf of the European-Turkish project, "The Image of the Turk in Europe from the Declaration of the Republic in 1923 to the 1990s", set up on the occasion of the 75th birthday of the Turkish Republic by the  Boğaziçi Centre for Comparative European Studies (CECES), Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. The book was published in 2000 by The Isis Press, Istanbul, pp. 55-66. For further information please contact Prof. Dr.Nedret Kuran Burçoğlu, Director of the CECES.

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