The Roman Catholic Church is the dominant faith. More than half of the Belgians are estimated to be Catholics, although few actively practice any religion.
There are no official statistics on religious affiliation, but around a third of the residents identify themselves as non-believers.
As a result of immigration from mainly Morocco and Turkey, around half a million (about 5 percent of the population) are Muslims in the country. Protestant, Orthodox Christian and Jewish congregations have few members, but they receive financial support from the state as recognized religious communities.
The religious tolerance is generally quite good, although in recent years Muslims have become more vulnerable. In 2011, Belgium introduced a ban on a comprehensive veil in public places.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Belgium, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
The King of Belgium regrets abuses during the colonial era
In a letter to President Félix Tshisekedi, King of Belgium expresses deep regret for the colonial abuses committed by his country in Congo-Kinshasa. The letter is written before today’s celebration of Congo-Kinshasa’s 60 years as an independent state. It is also published in a number of Belgian media. However, King Philippe does not go as far as a formal apology. From 1885 to 1908, the land was King Leopold II’s private property. During his reign of terror, about ten million people died. From 1908 until 1960, Congo-Kinshasa was a Belgian colony. This is the first time Belgium has publicly expressed remorse over what has happened.
Policemen demonstrate against criticism
Several hundred police officers take part in street protests aimed at what they perceive as unfair criticism in recent demonstrations against racism. Outside a courthouse in Brussels, police, most civilians, demonstratively put down handcuffs. They oppose allegations of racism within the police force in Belgium, and say they are not like their American counterparts. A similar protest is taking place in Liège.
Royal protest against protest wave
Prince Laurent, brother of King Philippe, joins an ongoing heated debate over Belgium’s colonial past when he takes his ancestor King Leopold II into defense. In an interview, Laurent says that Leopold never committed any abuse himself and never visited Congo, and therefore “could not have hurt anyone there”. Leopold II, who was king in 1865-1909, claimed today’s Congo-Kinshasa as his private property, and is known for an unusually brutal rule that claimed the lives of millions of people (see Ancient History). During an ongoing protest wave, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, several statues of Leopold have been vandalized or demolished by protesters around Belgium.
Restaurants are reopening
Many cafes, restaurants and tourist attractions reopened for the first time since the closure due to the corona virus almost three months ago. However, some restrictions still apply, among other things, the serving staff must wear mouthguards and the tables are at a greater distance from each other than normal.
Crisis support year-round
Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès announces that employees who have been laid off because of the corona pandemic will receive support throughout the year and a lower VAT rate introduced in the hospitality industry will also be retained for the rest of the year. All residents of Belgium will be allocated a rail pass entitling them to ten trips within the country, which will help to compensate for missing foreign guests.
Hospital employees in protest against the government
Employees at Saint Pierre Hospital in Brussels protest demonstratively against lack of healthcare resources in connection with the visit of Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès. Nurses and others gathered at the entrance to the hospital turn their heads as their vehicle drives forward. The protest is aimed at a lack of resources and rules that mean that employees can be forced to work if the virus situation so requires.
Relief in coronary restriction
A gradual unlocking is initiated by the strict restrictions imposed by the coronary pandemic. Among other things, textile factories open so that it is possible to buy materials to make face masks. It becomes mandatory to wear face mask in public transport. Exercise is allowed with two people at a time. From May 11, all stores will be open and on May 18, schools will open, but with a maximum of ten students at a time. Belgium is counted as the country in the world that has the most deaths in covid-19, relative to the population. The death toll is close to 8,000 at the end of April / May. However, according to the authorities, the figure is high because Belgium counts deaths on elderly housing even when the deceased has never been tested for covid-19, if there is reason to suspect the corona center.
Continued restrictions due to corona
Belgium is following a number of other countries in Europe and is closing its borders on everything except freight transport and passenger journeys that are deemed “necessary”. All public groups have been banned and residents are required to stay at home, except to exercise, visit doctors or shop for food. The purpose of the measures is to try to slow down the coronary heart.
Virus crisis brings new government
As a result of the ongoing Corona crisis, the tiring political parties are succeeding in supporting Acting Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès and supporting her in a vote of confidence. Belgium thus gets an ordinary government with a parliamentary majority for the first time since December 2018. Nine parties have agreed to grant Wilmès ‘special powers’ to handle the situation. The right-wing nationalists in the N-VA, however, refuse to participate in what N-VA representative Theo Francken calls a “corona dictatorship”.
Comprehensive measures against coronavirus
the 12th of March
The government closes all schools, bars and restaurants and cancels all cultural and sporting events, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus causing covid-19. Parents without a babysitter should get help from the authorities, it says. The Belgians are also encouraged to work from home as much as possible.
Liberating judgment in euthanasia case
Three doctors are acquitted in a first trial in Belgium for a case of euthanasia. Relatives and prosecutors claimed that a 38-year-old woman who was helped to die in 2010 wanted it because of a failed relationship and not because of an “incurable illness” as the law requires. But the court went on the line of defense. Several previous legal cases have been on the wallpaper since the euthanasia law was introduced in 2002, but this is the first time it has gone all the way to trial. According to Belgian media, 2,357 people were helped to die in Belgium 2018.
Ex-king acknowledges extramarital daughter
Former King Albert admits that he is the father of a now 51-year-old daughter, Delphine Boël, something he has repeatedly denied ever since Boël first claimed it publicly several decades ago. When Albert abdicated in 2013, she went to court which resulted in Albert being sentenced to DNA testing, against a fine of € 5,000 per day if he refused. The DNA test has now established paternity. Boel’s mother claims that she had an affair with then Prince Albert from 1966 to 1984.