The Collective against Islamophobia in Belgium (CCIB) opened nearly 70 investigations into confirmed Islamophobic incidents last year. They have already opened 90 investigations so far this year. The victims are mainly women, it revealed during the presentation of its first annual report on Friday.
Although the CCIB has existed since 2014, this is the first year its resources have allowed it to draw up a report on Islamophobia in Belgium.
The association actively collaborates with Unia, the inter-federal centre for equal opportunities. The CCIB forwarded 70% of its cases to Unia in 2017. A transfer requires the victim’s authorisation, which is not easy to get as some victims don’t trust institutions, according to the front-line service’s boss Layla Azzouzi. “However, it is very important that Unia has the most accurate image possible of the current reality of discrimination.”
Around a quarter of the 202 incidents that Unia recorded as Islamophobic were reported to them by the CCIB. Unia’s figures show an 18% drop in incidents between 2016 and 2017, but the CCIB says 2016 was slightly different because of the post-attack context. The collective says Islamophobia is very present in Belgium, with on average one Islamophobic incident reported every two days.
The victim is a woman in nearly 76% of cases where the victim profile is known. “Some of it is linked to the veil, which is a visible sign of belonging, but it’s not just that,” says Layla Azzouzi. Women are often involved in the associative network “and we have seen an increase in feminist Muslims,” she says.
The CCIB’s case-list for 2017 shows the most criticised Islamophobia is that expressed in the media and on the internet (29%), in general society (17%), in education (16%) and work (14%).