"I feel very much at home in Antwerp, but there are moments when I don't. For example, the headscarf—people are talking about it more and more and think of you negatively when they see you wearing it."
—Open Society Foundations questionnaire respondent, Antwerp
Muslims in Antwerp confirms the deep sense of belonging to the city among Muslim residents and the city's strong commitment to innovative programs that promote diversity and inclusion. It also reveals, however, that discrimination continues to be a serious barrier to full and equal participation for Antwerp's Muslim and minority communities. In particular, the implementation of supposedly "neutral" city policies (such as the ban on headscarves for city personnel in public functions, which particularly impacts women and girls) often undercuts the city's commitment to diversity and social inclusion, and works to further exclude Muslims and minority groups.
The research that helped generate these conclusions focused on the district of Borgerhout—one of the nine districts that comprise Antwerp—and offers an exceptional snapshot of the daily lives and experiences of the city's diverse Muslim, non-Muslim, and minority residents. By engaging with communities and policymakers, local experts explored the needs and primary concerns of Muslim inhabitants and assessed whether policymakers have understood and met these needs. Areas examined include education, employment, health, housing and social protection, citizenship and political participation, policing and security, media, belonging, identity, and interactions.
The report follows up on its findings by offering a series of recommendations for local and national authorities, Muslim communities and other minority groups, NGOs and community organizations, the media, and broader civil society.
Muslims in Antwerp is the seventh in the Muslims in EU Cities series produced by the Open Society Foundations' At Home in Europe project. It is the result of research that examines the level and nature of integration of Muslims in 11 cities across Europe (Antwerp, Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Leicester, London, Marseille, Paris, Rotterdam, and Stockholm).
The report and a fact sheet based on the report’s findings are available for download in English. The fact sheet is also available in Flemish.
Hard copies of the report can be requested, but please note that they may not always be available. To order one, please contact Csilla Tóth at [email protected].