Antwerp, Belgium

BACKGROUND

Currently at around 500,000, Antwerp’s population is fast growing, with a high birth rate and growing immigration levels. As with many other cities, this presents not only a physical challenge in terms of housing and education capacity, but also a social challenge in terms of ensuring that a diverse population is socially well connected and inclusive. The city has multiple extremism-related challenges, which it seeks to address through a series of prevention and social inclusion initiatives.

Antwerp faces right-wing extremism, left-wing extremism, Islamist extremism, and animal rights extremism.

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

With the highest European par capita levels of foreign terrorist fighters travelling to the Syria/Iraq conflict, Belgium has developed its own comprehensive approach to countering violent extremism and preventing radicalisation. Both the Federal and regional governments play an important role in the strategy. Key to the Belgian strategy is ensuring good communication between the Federal, Flemish, Walloon and municipal policy levels and adapting solutions to every local context. On a Federal level, the focus is primarily security and safety measures, while the regional and local levels focus on prevention and resilience-building. To a large extent, regions and cities can therefore design their own prevention programmes to complement national policy.

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LOCAL OVERVIEW

Antwerp’s departmental Living Together administration consists of around 700 people operating across the city’s ten districts. It works to connect individuals and communities across Antwerp and to restore inter-communal and neighbourhood relationships where they have lapsed or broken down. It aims to limit social polarisation by addressing a range of issues, including poverty, health, well-being and respect for the rules and customs of the city.

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KEY SOURCES & FURTHER READING

Official Strategy Documents & Action Plans

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Other Resources

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LOCAL POLITICAL LEADERSHIP

Name: Bart De Wever

Role: Mayor of Antwerp

Bart De Wever