Antisemitic prejudices on the rise among young Belgian believers - Study

According to a recent study by the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, young French-speaking Belgians in Brussels, Muslims and Catholics alike, express strong antisemitic and homophobic prejudices.

Belgian academics Joël Kotek and Joël Tournemenne from the European Center for Studies on the Shoah, Antisemitism and Genocides (Ceesag), attached to the Free University of Brussels, were already interested in the subject in 2011.

At the time, their study on the opinion of Flemish young people vis-à-vis other cultures had suggested that nearly half of young Muslims surveyed and 3% of practicing Catholics peddled antisemitic clichés.

For their new study published recently, entitled "The Jew and the Other in the French-speaking schools in Brussels" (Le Juif et l’Autre dans les écoles francophones bruxelloises), this time carried out among French-speaking youth in Brussels, they interviewed 1,672 young people aged 16 to 22, of all ages. social origins (39% of respondents say they are Muslims, and 25% Catholics).

“Why did our study have to be done? It is obvious that our survey in no way concerns those who we like to characterize in Belgium as 'radicalized' or 'mad'. Our statistics do not concern these Islamists structured around an ideology and who have taken action. Our survey is nonetheless useful in defining avenues which give an image of the representations of young French-speaking Brussels residents ”, they write.

Their study suggests in particular that 16% of practicing Catholics and 37% of young Muslims believe that Jews "control the banks and the media with the Freemasons". The figures are 17 and 22% concerning the number of young people who believe that the tragedy of the Shoah was "greatly exaggerated". According to 19% of Catholics and 31% of Muslims, Jews “prefer Israel to their country”.

"Our data shows that a significant portion, but not the majority, of Muslims share very strong antisemitic representations with young radical Catholics, such as supposed wealth or the idea that Jews control the world," say the researchers.

"If antisemitic representations appear to be on the whole in decline, this observation does not however apply to the young practicing Muslims in our sample, who have three times more Judeophobic, homophobic and sexist prejudices than non-believers, the practicing Catholics having, for their share, twice as much, ”they explain.

Another problem: according to the study, 36% of young Belgian Muslims believe that “gay marriage should be abolished”, when 38% of young Belgian Catholics think so. 33% of young Belgian Catholics think that homosexuals "are not real men", and 41% of young Belgian Muslims.

In order to fight against these antisemitic and homophobic prejudices, the two authors argue in particular that it is necessary to "put an end to denial at the political level", or to act at the level of justice, at the religious, academic and school level, and at the level anti-racist media and organizations, which must do more to understand antisemitism.