Over 75 mosques not recognised as Muslim Executive 'does not cooperate'

Over 75 mosques not recognised as Muslim Executive 'does not cooperate'
A mosque in Flanders. Credit: Belga

More than 75 mosques in Flanders applied for recognition nearly three years ago, but have been kept waiting as the Muslim Executive "is not cooperating," said Flemish Minister of Coexistence Bart Somers.

Due to the lack of an effective recognition framework, Flanders has not recognised a single mosque since 2013. Therefore, Somers has prepared a new decree with clear conditions for recognition.

"The new decree has been in force for three months now. We receive signals from the field that several mosques are waiting to be recognised, but the Muslim Executive does not provide us with the files," he said in a press release on Monday. "Our Flemish Muslims deserve better, the Muslim Executive leaves them in the lurch."

For Somers, this shows that Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne took the right decision last week, when he announced he would revoke the recognition (and the funding) of the Muslim Executive, after sustained suspicion of foreign influence, malfunctioning and radicalism.

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"The Flemish Muslims are an integral part of our society. The vast majority of them do not care about foreign interference or a representative body that continues to classify them on the basis of their countries of origin, even if they are already the third or sometimes even the fourth generation," Somers said.

In practice, more than 75 mosques already applied for recognition before 1 July 2019, but the Muslim Executive has not submitted a single file for recognition to the Minister since the new decree came into force.

"Nothing says that all these 75 mosques will now apply for recognition again," Somers said. "Some applications are no longer relevant and some will have lost interest now that we have tightened the rules. But several mosques have been waiting for recognition for years and yet there is no recognition application on my desk yet."

Last recognition nearly 10 years ago

Since 2017, no new local faith communities have been recognised due to the lack of a clear recognition framework. The last mosque was recognised in 2013, almost 10 years ago. With Somers' new decree, however, this recognition stop came to an end three months ago.

In Belgium, the Federal Government determines which religions are recognised, but the regions are in charge of recognising the local religious communities. Flanders has approximately 1,700 local religious communities, of which more than 1,580 are Roman Catholic.


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