Flemish Belgians Say Muslims Enrich Society

BRUSSELS – A survey suggested to measure support for a Muslim ban from Belgium has backfired, showing a slight minority supporting it and the majority praising Muslim immigrants’ role in enriching society.

The public survey, conducted by the Flemish public broadcaster VRT and the daily De Standaard, was suggested by the governing nationalist New Flemish Alliance though it has encountered resistance from the liberal and Christian democrat coalition, The Independent reported on Wednesday, October 12.

Responding to the question “Should following Islam be banned in Belgium?” 17 per cent of Flemings polled agreed.

The idea was popular among the over 55s, blue collar and low skilled workers.

A much larger group, 67 per cent, said they did not mind being served in a shop by Muslims wearing headscarfs.

Half of those polled said they believe the presence of Muslim immigrants enriches society, compared to 27 per cent who said it did not.

On another angle, 64 per cent of Flemings said they supported allowing the police to detain terror suspects without a warrant.

However, 26 per cent of Flemings oppose the measure.

Belgian Muslims are estimated at 450,000 – out of a 10-million-population – about half of them are from Moroccan origin, while 120,000 are from Turkish origin.

More than 20 percent of the population of Brussels is of Muslim origin coming from Morocco, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other African countries.

Belgium became the first European country to ban the Islamic burka in public in 2010, followed by France.