In Belgium, Professor Mark Elchardus discussed his report on youth inclusion, which found that half of local Muslim youths hold anti-Semitic views, and noted a direct link to their Islamic theology. Local Islamic group Vigilance Musulman has registered a formal complaint with the country’s Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism.
Mark Elchardus is Professor of Sociology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. His research concerns cultural sociology, and he examines in particular the development of contemporary ideas, attitudes and ways of thinking and feeling. He has published some 250 articles, chapters and reports is author or editor of 13 and co-author of 16 books. In addition to his academic career he is also chairman of the Fund P & V against the exclusion of young people.
Professor Elchardus was one of the authors of the recently published report “Young in Brussels: findings from the JOP monitor Brussels”, which noted, as another author said, that “having a multi-ethnic society does not necessarily mean having a cosmopolitan society”.
Chapter 8 in the report discussed anti-Semitism among youths in Brussels. Among its findings was that half of the Muslim youths hold anti-Semitic views. Furthermore, it noted that the prevalence of these views was not linked to poverty or education, and moreover could not be explained solely by events in the Middle East.
Discussing these findings in an interview with newspaper De Morgen, Professor Elchardus noted that it “Worries him that half of the Muslim pupils can be describe as anti-Semitic, which is very high. Worse is that that anti-Jewish feelings have nothing to do with a low level of education or social deprivation, as is the case with native-born racists. The anti-Semitism among the Muslim youths is theologically inspired, and there is a direct link between Islam and anti-Semitic feelings. While Catholics are more negative towards Jews, the feelings are not nearly as strong."
These comments served as the basis for a formal complaint lodged with Belgium’s Center for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, a government agency tasked with combating racism and discrimination.
The complaint charges that “the remarks indicated a correlation between being Muslim and the fact of experiencing anti-Semitic feelings…These remarks motivate the public to hatred of all Muslim citizens, without distinction and necessarily targeted on the basis of their religious belief.
The complainant is local Islamic organization Vigilance Musulman, a self described “think tank”, and the complaint was signed by Mehmet Saygin, who was also a active in the fight against the ban on wearing Islamic headscarves in public education institutions in Belgium