Are the Belgians racist?

26th March 2009, Comments 11 comments

"I'm not a racist, but ..." is the title of a poll commissioned by the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism.

The majority of those polled accept that we live in a multicultural society, but many have problems with certain aspects of multiculturalism.

More than half of the 1,392 Belgians polled said that they never had contact with people from a different ethnic origin. This group claim neither positive nor negative experiences with foreigners.

People living in the city come into more frequent contact with other cultures and are more positive and open to multiculturalism. The director of the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism Jozef De Witte points out that this is very positive.

"The most remarkable conclusion (of the poll) is that Belgians are more tolerant of ethnic minorities the more they come into contact with them." Further, 55 percent of those polled said that they think the presence of different cultures in Belgium enriches society.

Two out of three Belgians polled said that people from all races are equal. One third thinks that some races are more talented than others.

The poll confirms a number of clichés. More than a third of Belgians think that people of an ethnic minority get unemployment benefits easier than Belgians. Half of those polled blame the growing crime rate on the presence of the foreigners in Belgium.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was established in 1966, following the massacre of young students peacefully protesting against apartheid laws in South Africa.

Proclaiming the International Day, the United Nations General Assembly called upon the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.


11 Comments To This Article

  • Libra posted:

    on 14th August 2016, 09:22:14 - Reply

    I found this post and a comments while looking for a way to explain Flemish mentality to myself. I live in Belgium with Flemish boyfriend and work among Flemish colleagues... Many people in this country are very kind and polite, but I must say I do agree with many bad things written here. There is a big "non-human" side, and materialism is in the air here. People do not find any importance in music, literature, theatre, not even movies or anything similar...perhaps art... but thruth is that no one really cares, or at least this "feeling" is in the air. What they do care about is money, house, car, and basically pure technical comodity or everything that is indeed materialistic! It is hard for them to comprehend that some things are done out of motives such as love, honour, dignity, ideals... Who cares for that, when you can think about building a big house in the village or having a good car and a new furniture? It is a little bit schocking. Extremelly pragmatical society. I come from a country where average salary is 400EUR/month. No one there thinks about money as much as Flemish people do. It is so disappointing. It is very difficult for them to comprehend that there are other things that motivate people. Society influences people and I do not want to become a materialistic person unable to have any clear ideology to hang on to, except money and "stupid things"...comodities... Truth is that life in this country is technically very good, but if you look for "deepness" or ideals, something to touch your soul to the deepest parts...look elsewhere, or just read a Russian novel.
  • Mike posted:

    on 25th July 2016, 00:31:17 - Reply

    I lived in Belgium for 1.5 years during my masters. I had to leave without finishing cos the people [were] racist. They will be subtle about it but whenever they see you (a visible minority) they will make racist sounds and say derogatory terms in Flemish. It was the worst experience in my life and I will never set foot in Belgium again.

  • Alia posted:

    on 11th September 2015, 20:25:11 - Reply

    V'been living 1 year here in Brussels. I've traveled in many European countries: France, Spain etc.
    In the begi, i thought i was who had a problem maybe i wasn't enough outgoing.. anyways it wasn't me at all. The sentence is Belgium for Belgians, seriously never saw that much racism. Belgian people are some RACIST and they're even proud about it, they think they're better than others when they aren't at all. People use to act as if you didn't exist, just to hurt you and put you down. I'm mixed blood, i've never known racism before because i was living in Africa and i just came for studies.
    They're are always between them, when they have friends lol, such nonchalant people.
    Me as a mixed blood person, i'm even getting racist, i'm really ashamed about it but i can't love people who hate me, i can't do nothing but hate them too. Even when you trynna get friends they act like if you weren't a human being... damn i don't even know how to explain.
    BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? yall Belgian people arent better than anyone.

  • JohnBeton posted:

    on 14th May 2014, 13:54:58 - Reply

    Sad to hear that, Wendy, I'm a Belgian and the Belgian mentality is quite two-faced. Nice in your face but you never know what they really think until their own "friendliness" is about to force them into doing something their real mind doesn't want to do. One thing though, do not hate on Zwarte Piet, quite sick of non-Dutch or non-Belgians dissing this tradition. It's based on an ancient Bishop who did exist and did free slaves. However, these days nobody sees Zwarte Piet as a black human but as a magical being that just happens to be black. Not a damn thing racist about it. You wouldn't call elves/gnomes racist expression against people with dwarfism would you? Want to ban gnomes from the world?
  • Wendy posted:

    on 27th March 2014, 23:43:01 - Reply

    After living in Belgium for 4 years, having lived in Zwitzerland, Netherlands and England before, I have to say I cannot wait to leave and it is long overdue. I feel very dissapointed in the Belgium people as human beings. Extremely selfish, money driven, highly cynical, un-human people. With exceptions of course. Incapable of expressing positive genuine emotions, even towards loved ones and friends. The attitude in regards to emigrants, I would not call it Racism simply because they even hate white people of other nationalities. I would call it extremist Nationalism, passed down long and heavy through generations, even affecting the children. They have no respect for other cultures as human beings, and view them as simple "allowed" into the country to basically do the jobs that they do not want to do, "GOOD WORKERS"... or im sure you reader can find another word to fill in that blank. There is something extremely un-human about Belgium. And mind you I was and still am, granted a little affected by these 4 years, but still am a very positive and kind person. But their behaviour is simple unacceptable. And Zwart Piet should be banned by the human rights. It is NOT humourous/entertaining. It is a disrespectful, disgraceful, display that reflects perfectly the Belgium collective mentality.
  • Abhishek posted:

    on 18th December 2013, 15:10:01 - Reply

    I live in Belgium for 3 years
  • WeDontHateYou posted:

    on 30th July 2013, 14:32:30 - Reply

    I'm Belgian and I think everyone is unique, despite what country he or she lives in. I think everyone has qualities and should have the same chances in society. There are some flaws in the system but that's not the people who uses the flaws their fault. It's the system or government's fault. If I don't smile or look at you on the street it's because I'm already thinking what I'm going to have for dinner or I think of family and freinds.. Or I'm just tired from work and want to be left alone.. We're quite introvert you know. No hard feelings... It's our culture. We don't hate you. :-) On the contrary. Tell me about your culture, and I'll gladly listen to you. Just, make an appointment first, lol. By the way, "are THE Belgians racist" is indirectly aimed at me, which is stereotypical generalization... it makes me wonder who's the real racist... :-(
  • Vik posted:

    on 16th November 2012, 12:27:02 - Reply

    Yes its unfortunate, i have faced racism and comments on being a brown. Its funny how people talk about you in local language and thinking you do not understand a thing.

    Thankfully leaving the country soon. But i did meet some nice people too - but was rare.
  • andy posted:

    on 5th February 2012, 18:03:03 - Reply

    well jusy an update on the last posting,being a foreigner in Belgium gets even worse,due to increased crime in this time of economic depression we have been asked by our local police to request visitors to our home to park their foreign registered cars in the centre of town and to walk to our home in order to ease the worries of neighbours in the street who feel ill at ease?. I know its hard to believe but over the christmas and new year period we actually had family and friends visit which has led to a visit from our landlords and the local police,non due to noise,parking,or any other disturbances,only that the belgian mentality is such it worries about such things but for the actual police to get involved and make such requests is beyond belief,specially in this day and age,i wonder what would happen if the police in the UK or anywhere else did as such?
  • paul posted:

    on 30th January 2012, 12:23:25 - Reply

    Yup, a funny bunch all right. I was regularly hooted at by truck drivers for no apparent reason (must've been my UK plates). My wife went into a bank and they were nice as pie until she spoke English, at which point they got nasty and accused her of pushing in front of the queue. I was openly hated by one of my Belgian colleagues who would complain loudly about me from the other side of the desk (he didn't know I understood Flemish) and yet still smile at me and shake my hand every morning. I was told by a Belgian that all Belgian's are two-faced, which was interesting coming from a local. Was glad to leave and hope never to return. Some genuinely nice people there, but the country is too weird for my tastes.
  • andy posted:

    on 3rd January 2012, 19:00:23 - Reply

    the problem with belgians is they dont know what racism means,as far as the majority of belgians go its a matter of they are not racist as long as the people think,act and dress the same as me. the system itself has a lot to blame for that though,i have had a lorry driver drive me off the road when driving a foreign car and when police were called they asked,what do u expect us to do?,i have actual recordings of a doctor saying that belgium is sick of foreigners coming here expecting help and the best thing would be to ,,,go home,though the department in belgium for anti discrimination advised us to get a lawyer they themself decided it was not in anyones intrest to follow through with a prosecution?basically belgium is the country that hosts the european union so would hate to be accused of such blatant racism but please note,bulgaria has just been admitted to the european community,prostitutes can work legally there but engineers cant? and who says the good old days of pimping are over.