As Donald Trump stormed through Brussels this week, alternatively dishing out anti-European tirades and paeans of fawning praise, he had little time to mingle with the city’s residents or take in its cultural and architectural landscape. If the president had attempted any of that, he might have been quite confused.
The city, like Belgium as a whole, has long been split between French-speakers and Dutch-speaking Flemings. These days, a still more obvious social gap divides people of loosely Catholic heritage and the more introvert parts of a Muslim community which now accounts for a quarter of the city’s population, and could be in the majority by mid-century, on present trends. And within the Muslim cohort, there is rivalry between the two main elements, Moroccans and Turks. It is not uncommon, for example, for Belgo-Moroccans to marry Belgians of Christian background, but very rare for Moroccans to marry Turks.