Last Updated on August 17, 2021
Islam is one of the seven recognized religions in Belgium, and as such, it enjoys some benefits and subsidies, such as giving government salaries to religious education teachers, providing equipment, and maintenance to mosques, as well as benefiting from tax exemptions.
Total population: 10.3 million
Muslim population ( 2016): 870, 000
In recent years, Belgian Muslims have been elected to the National Senate and the House of Representatives. In spite of this, Muslims filed complaints of discrimination, with unemployment and inadequate housing being some causes of tension. They also issued lawsuits for discrimination against women in traditional dress, as the majority of Belgian Muslims are of Moroccan, Turkish or Albanian origins.
Brussels and Antwerp are the two largest Muslim cities in Belgium. The Belgian Muslims Coalition is the official interlocutor on Islam and Muslim communities in Belgium, and it supervises the registration of mosques, imams and teachers of Islamic education in public schools.
Although there are more than 350 mosques in Belgium, Muslims have very few civil society organizations that defend their rights and combat discrimination. Therefore, the representation of Muslims in the Belgian centers of power and civil society organizations remains weak. Meanwhile, the government of Belgium is working to provide funding for mosques and salaries for imams, employing more than 800 imams in government- recognized mosques and teachers of Islamic and Arabic education in schools.
Nevertheless, there are indications of escalating suffering of Muslims in the Belgian society due to racism and discrimination based on religion and race, and this was evident especially in the aftermath of the 2016 Brussels bombings.