Share article:

    Belgium could reclaim control of the Great Mosque, says expert

    © Belga
    © Belga

    One of the experts of the commission of inquiry on terrorist attacks suggests entrusting the Grand Mosque of Brussels to the Executive of the Muslims of Belgium, the daily newspaper “L’Avenir” reported on Monday. The Commission of Inquiry, set up following the attacks of 22 March 2016, began holding a closed meeting on its report on the third part of its assignment, namely the phenomenon of radicalism in Belgium.

    The commission’s experts prepared a draft report, the result of hearings that took place this year. The commission has issued two invitations to the leaders of the Great Mosque of the Cinquantenaire, the emblematic place of Islam in Belgium, decried for the very rigorous vision of Islam that is allegedly taught there.

    A note by the State Security of 2015 thus called into question the Great Mosque, whose preaching and courses “inherently promote the rejection of all those who are not Salafists and could therefore lead to a higher degree of radicalisation, or perhaps even violent radicalisation” without, however, establishing a direct link with terrorism or combatants abroad.

    The hearings of the imam of the Great Mosque and the director of the institution (the Islamic and Cultural Centre of Belgium) took place in a tense climate, revealing a gulf between the parliamentarians and the leaders of the Great Mosque. They rejected the accusations of radicalism and explained that the Islam that was being preached was that of the “middle ground”.

    The seizure of the mosque of Saudi Arabia, through the World Islamic League, was questioned in particular. A form of takeover by the Executive of the Muslims of Belgium will probably involve breaking the concession granted in 1967 by Belgium to the Saudi kingdom. However, the idea does not convince all parliamentarians who want a broader framework.

    Some parties have already advocated a ban on foreign funding of religious denominations in Belgium. The MR has pleaded in this direction, as well as the CDH, which added other conditions: approval of the accounts by an auditor, directors resident in Belgium, etc.

    Sarah Johansson
    The Brussels Times