In 2014, 185 Islamophobic incidents were reported in the country, the CCIB (Collective against Islamophobia in Belgium) announced in its first annual report on Friday. The phenomenon is steadily rising, having increased by 94% since 2011, the association makes clear, basing its comments on figures issued by the CIEC (Belgium’s anti-discrimination and equal opportunities commission). Last year the CIEC opened 260 new cases of Islamophobic discrimination and expressions of hatred against Muslims. Among these, 55 were clearly identified as criminal offences or inciting racial hatred, in breach of relevant legislation, the CIEC reported last March.
Of the remaining 205, 130 related to Islamophobia, without however constituting a criminal offence, adds the CCIB, which has requested that the CIEC provide further clarification. Le CIEC defines Islamophobia as “hatred of Islam and Muslims or suspected Muslims,” and not simply the fear of Islam, its website says.
In 2014, 185 cases of islamophobia were reported in Belgium, compared to 95 in 2011, 115 in 2012 and 139 in 2013, pointed out the CCIB. “In Belgium from 2011 to 2013, there were at least two Islamophobic incidents every week, of which at least one was clearly a breach of anti-discrimination legislation. In 2014 there were at least three Islamophobic incidents a week, an average of one every 2 days” highlights the NPO which was set up almost a year ago. Yet “the authorities are not aware of the scale of the phenomenon and its impact on social cohesion and civil liberties,” it believes.
The association is calling for governments to officially recognise hatred of Islam as an attack on human rights, to provide accurate figures, and to rule against the ban on headscarves within universities. Oscar Schneider (Source: Belga)