The experience of Islam among Moroccan and Turkish migrants in the 1960s

Johan Leman, 25 April 2024

As part of this research for the MMM museum, giving a voice to someone from that time or to one of their children, one of the questions I ask is how people (Moroccans and Turks) experienced Islam in the 1960s. Inevitably, the question of ‘halal’ and butchers, as well as the veil for women, is addressed, and places of prayer and mosques.

Regarding butchers, I always hear that people would go to the “kasher” Jewish butcher, either on Brabant Street, or at Duchesse square, or near Midi Station, or near Saint Catherine. They also went to the “Abattoirs” to buy chicken or to a farmer in the Flemish outskirts of Brussels for a sheep.

As for the veil, it is said that all women, so as Italian, Greek or Belgian women, wore a small veil back then,… as a rural practice. For the Islamization of the veil, many refer back to the early 1980s (with the impact of Khomeini and the reaction of Saudi Wahhabism).

Mosque life began in the form of prayer spaces. People are proud to tell how they contributed with their own money to the creation of a mosque.

Increasingly, I am also beginning to understand some differences between Turkish and Moroccan migration from that time, but that’s for later.