Belgian State removal of Muslim Executive president deemed 'unconstitutional'

Belgian State removal of Muslim Executive president deemed 'unconstitutional'
Credit: Belga.

The Brussels Civil Court has ruled that the Belgian State illegally interfered in the activities of the Muslim Executive in Belgium (EMB) by dismissing its former president, Salah Echallaoui, through the actions of Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne.

According to Le Soir, the court has confirmed that these actions represented an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state.

In December 2020, the minister had called for a renewal of all the governing bodies of the EMB since he suspected Echallaoui to be a paid spy for the Moroccan state, after an investigation by State Security showed possible foreign interference in the Grand Mosque of Brussels.

This was followed by the revoking of recognition and funding of the Muslim Executive in February of this year, due to it allegedly being under the foreign influence from Morocco, but also Turkey.

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Salah Echallaoui, resigned while denying the accusations of collaboration with foreign secret services and then filed a lawsuit against the minister in May 2021.

In a judgment handed on 1 September, the Brussels Civil Court ruled in Echallaoui's favour, giving two different reasons for this ruling.

Firstly, the judge stated that, in the absence of precise data as to their source or origin, the information that State Security had gathered probably came from anonymous information which, as such, had no probative value.

Secondly, the fact that Van Quickenborne had accepted that the government would finance future building works on the Grand Mosque, if Echalloui resigned, this meant that the minister had illegally interfered in the former president's freedom of worship and association.

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