Fewer, but bigger mosques suggested for Antwerp

Antwerp has 36 mosques, and according to Monica De Coninck, the alderman in charge of diversity, this is 75% too much. De Coninck would like to see up to nine medium sized, well equipped and safe mosques. Currently, many of the mosques in Antwerp are small, located in old buildings, and unsafe in emergency situations (for example, they lack an emergency exit). De Coninck says that the new mosques should be built by existing neighborhoods, but planning may be assisted by professional urban planners to design architecturally integrated mosques for a Western look.

Headscarf ban extended to social services

The headscarf ban in Antwerp is now being extended to personnel in the social services (OCMW). Two employment counselors were given a choice to either remove their headscarves, or move to the complaints department, where citizens won’t see them. One woman refused to remove her headscarf and was transferred to the complaints department, while the other woman is still thinking things over. Last year, Antwerp’s city council approved a controversial uniform code; civil servants who come into contact with residents may not wear external symbols of life outlook convictions. OCMW chairperson Monica De Coninck justified the decision, while OCMW councilor Dirk Geldof fears that extending the headscarf ban to the OCMW would create a dangerous precedent.