A non-profit organization set up to represent the country’s Muslim community has dissolved, and staffs at its Brussels offices have been given notice of their job terminations. Last Monday, Minister Jo Vandeurzen closed down the Muslim Executive after internal conflict in the organization. Belgium’s Muslim Executive has gone into receivership, at a time when the new Executive Council of he Muslim community was to be appointed. Arguments have been stirring about whether or not the Council is a true representation of the Muslim community, are believed to have contributed to the dissolve; Muslims of Moroccan descent felt that they were underrepresented, and the organization’s financial problems also contributed to the fall. The last chairman, Coskun Beyazgul was indicted for fraud, and is suspected of forgery, using false documents, abusing company goods, and using money from the Executive for his own personal use. According to court sources, charges also include the purchase of cars, computers, phones, and restaurant costs. Besides Beyazgul, the Executive’s treasurer Atila Aydogdu and former deputy chairman Benjelloul Kissi were also charged. Since the establishment of Belgium’s Muslim Executive in 1999, there have been ongoing complaints about members and conduct. A court investigation was already opened against the first two chair-persons, Nourredine Malouhjahoum and Mohammed Boulif; Malouhjahoum was exonerated, and Boulif was indicted in 2007.
After several years of largely neglecting its Muslim community’s financial needs, Belgium has taken a tangible step toward Muslims by officially recognizing 43 mosques in the country. The decision paves the way for the mosque officials to be provided a monthly wage and housing by the state from now on. Belgium’s Muslim community remained deprived of several financial privileges, although Islam was officially recognized as one of the religions in the country in 1974, along with six other religions. Interior Minister of the Valon region Philippe Courard received a delegation from the Belgian Muslim Executive (EMB), the institution that officially represents the country’s more than 500,000 Muslims. Courard signed a governmental decree that will officially recognize 43 mosques, 26 of them belonging to the Turkish community.