Antwerp mosque should lose official recognition, says Flemish Minister
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    Antwerp mosque should lose official recognition, says Flemish Minister

    Opened in 2007, the Noor-ul-Haram mosque of the Pakistani-Indian Antwerp Islamic Association has been dealing with internal disagreements since 2016. Credit: Noor-ul-Haram Antwerp/ Facebook.

    The Flemish Minister for Integration and Interior, Bart Somers (Open Vld), wants to withdraw official recognition of the Noor-ul-Haram mosque in Antwerp because of internal disagreements that have been going on there for over three years.

    Somers wants to pull the mosque’s official status because internal disagreements are “jeopardising the mosque’s functioning,” the minister said, adding that the problems that have arisen with the mosque have nothing to do with extremism.

    Opened in 2007, the Noor-ul-Haram mosque of the Pakistani-Indian Antwerp Islamic Association has been dealing with internal disagreements since 2016 when the board of the non-profit organization stopped allowing the imam to enter prayer rooms and instead appointed a new, not officially recognised, imam.

    “Social relevance of a religious community is one of the conditions for maintaining [official] recognition,” Somers explained, adding that “sustainable anchoring within the municipality is difficult if a conflict drags on for years.”

    “Moreover, it is not acceptable to us that essential administrative and decree provisions are not complied with and that the recognised imam has simply been replaced by a new imam that is not recognised,” Somers explained.

    Following an investigation, the Integration and Interior section of the Flemish government has advised that the process of withdrawing the mosque’s official status be initiated, De Standaard explains.

    If official recognition of the mosque is withdrawn, there will be financial repercussions for the Noor-ul-Haram mosque, as only recognised mosques receive subsidies from the Flemish government.

    Evie McCullough
    The Brussels Times