Young Belgian Muslims: between religious reactivity and individualization

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Corinne Torrekens, Nawal Bensaïd, Dimokritos Kavadias
Routlege - Taylor & Francis Online
Ethnic and Racial Studies, Volume: 44, Issue: 16


In Belgium, since the first instances of girls wearing headscarves in schools in 1989, the public discussion on the place of Islam and Muslims in Belgian society has been almost constant. That debate has become more polarized in the wake of the attacks of 22 March 2016. The results presented in this paper are drawn from sixteen group discussions and twenty individual semi-structured interviews. We investigate the weight of discrimination processes on identity formation in the light of both reactive religiosity and individualization and secularization theoretical frameworks. Our data show that strongly identifying as Muslim is not experienced as being exclusive of other types of identifications claimed simultaneously. Then, we illustrate the processes of reflexivity, appropriation, and individualization of belief, as well as the negotiation or even circumvention of certain religious norms that are ongoing among Brussels’ Muslim youth.