The Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities (FEERI), the second largest Islamic organization in Spain, held its first meeting in twenty years. FEERI and UCIDE (the other major Islamic organization in Spain), form the Islamic Commission of Spain (CIE), and both have contributed in equal measure to its virtual paralysis and ineffectiveness. However, after a series of internal conflicts, the current direction of FEERI (in which Morocco has great influence), has started a series of moves to gain influence over the other Islamic organizations in Spain. This meeting should be understood in this context.
During the meeting, the direction of the FEERI has defended the need for change in the CIE and the independence of Islamic organizations vis-à-vis the Spanish government, to whom the FEERI accuses of interfering in the internal affairs of Islamic organizations.
On the 11th and 12th of February 2011, the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities of Spain (FEERI), one of the two federations present at the Islamic Commission of Spain (the other is the Spanish Union of Islamic Communities, UCIDE) and that, in 1992, signed the Cooperation Agreements with the Spanish State, will be holding its I Meeting, under the theme: “Official representation of Muslims in Spain: Present and future”. This Meeting concerning current situation and challenges in the religious issue in Spain, comes in a time when the Islamic Commissions’ structure is under debate – as an attempt to incorporate those Muslim communities of recent creation that are outside FEERI and UCIDE, and so excluded from the rights granted by the 1992 Agreement.
On October 3, Mansur Escudero died at the age of 62 years in his house of Almodovar del Río (Cordoba). Mansur, who converted to Islam at the end of the 70s, was an important advocate of the legal recognition of Islam in Spain. He was cofounder and president of the FEERI (the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities) and Junta Islámica de España. Mansur was a prominent Islamic leader and contributed to the Agreement of Cooperation between the Spanish State and the Islamic Commission in 1992. He also founded “Verde Islam” journal and the website “Webislam”, currently one of the most important online resources about Islam in Spanish language.
Last Friday a confrontation took place between the two main Muslim groups of Ceuta. Each one of the groups arrived to the Friday prayer’s with their own imam. Finally, the Police had to intervene surrounding the building and trying to pacify the several groups of believers. The Muslim community of Ceuta is divided in two factions; on the one hand there is “Unión de Comunidades Islámicas de Ceuta” related to the Tabligh movement and, on the other hand, the FEERI that have less support but has links to the Moroccan government. The two Muslim federations are disputing over the control of the Great Mosque to the city.
One day before the EU-Moroccan summit, the PRUNE – Partido Renacimiento y Unión de España (Spain’s Renaissance and Union Party) is officially presented in Granada. It’s founder, a Spaniard of Moroccan origin (former delegate of the Spanish Islamic Commission – CIE – and Vice-president of the FEERI – Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities) relates the parties’ principles – which include the promotion of political participation, of justice, equality, solidarity and respect for the Spanish Constitution and legality – and regrets the negative public reaction claiming a potential islamicist and pro-Moroccan tendency of the Party. PRUNE shall run for the municipal elections in the year 2011 and for the general elections in 2012. So far the PRUNE is present in Granada, Málaga, Madrid, Barcelona, Asturias, Valencia and Murcia.
The internal rivalries within the FEERI have worsened during the last month. The opposition to the current board of directives has tried to overthrow it. The opposition, led by the Islamic Federation of Murcia (FIRM) has elected Mounir Benjelloun, the current vice-president of the FIRM, as new president of the FEERI. That election has been contested and still there is not a final resolution of the conflict.
The overthrown board of directives is said to be close to the Moroccan regime. On the other hand, the opposition is said to be close to the Moroccan opposition (especially the al-Adl wa al-Ihsan movement).
The Spanish Muslim Federation, or FME, has requested admission into the Spanish Islamic Commission, or CIE, the organization that represents Muslim communities throughout Spain.
The CIE was created in 1992 when the two oldest Muslim federations in Spain, the UCIDE and FEERI, signed an agreement of cooperation with the Spanish government.
The FME is an Islamic federation primarily composed of coverts and was created in 2006 as a result of a FEERI breakup.
In Spain, some mosques have been funded with capital from Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Morocco. The great mosques of Madrid, Marbella and Malaga were all funded with Saudi capital.
Meanwhile, the Moroccan government has been linked with various Muslim organizations in Ceuta, including the FEERI, or Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities.
The latter is one of the two Islamic federations that signed an agreement of cooperation with the Spanish government in 1992. The article compares the situation of Spain with the funding of mosques in other European countries. The article also makes connections between the economic support and the political and doctrinal submission of these communities to the funding nations. The FEERI, for example, sided with the Moroccan government in the “Haidar case”.
Elections in the Islamic Commission of Spain (CIE) will hold elections concerning the consideration of five Muslim federations to join the CIE. The CIE is the highest organ of communication and representation of Muslims in the Spanish government. Currently, they include only two federations – the Union of Islamic Communities in Spain (UCIDE) and the Spanish Federation of Islamic Organizations (FEERI). However, not all Muslims in Spain feel represented by these two entities, hence the consideration of including five more federations (The Federation of Muslim Spain, Islamic Council of Catalonia, the Islamic Federation of Murcia, the Belearic Federation, and the Higher Islamic Council of the Community of Valencia).