How do we deal with the colonial history of Brussels and the symbols that remind us of it in the public space?What about references to Leopold II, whose name is inextricably linked to the mass murders that took place under his regime in Congo? To gauge the opinion of the people of Brussels, one.brussels launched an online survey on colonial symbols, which was completed by 1,109 people in a short time. Opinions are strongly divided about the preservation, removal or replacement of the statues of Leopold II. However, two thirds of the respondents are in favor of contextualizing the statues.
The preliminary results of this study cover the responses received between 16 June and 28 June. During this period, 1,109 people completed the survey, 70% of which live in the Brussels Capital Region, and 30% in other Belgian municipalities, while a lost response came from the Netherlands. The survey is still ongoing and people can still respond. The results show a significant difference in the responses within Brussels and outside Brussels.
Most of the respondents seem to prefer a contextualisation of the colonial statues and symbols. 69% of the respondents who live in Brussels are in favour of this option, and even 73% of those living outside Brussels. People seem to agree that something needs to be done to provide a context to the statues of Leopold II.
There is a clear division among the Brussels inhabitants about the preservation of the statues. 50% of them are in favour of the preservation, 50% are against it. It is noticeable that people have a clearly expressed opinion, because 4 out of 10 of the respondents fully agree and also 4 out of 10 fully disagree. Of the respondents outside Brussels, 7 out of 10 agree, and even a majority of 57% fully agree, that the statues should be preserved.
For the removal of the statues there is no majority among the Brussels reactions either. In total, 77% of the Brussels respondents are against removing the statues. 79% of the participants outside Brussels are also against removing, but their preferences are stronger, with 7 out of 10 respondents fully disagreeing with the removal.
As for the accompaniment or replacement of the statues by a decolonisation monument, there is more support among the Brussels citizens than among the non-Brusselers. Of the Brussels respondents, 57% are against replacing or accompanying the statues, while outside Brussels, a clear majority of 74% is against it.
You can download the report with the results via this link.