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.
The newspaper El País published an article this week about the authorization of the reform of the Islamic Commission of Spain (Comisión Islámica de España). Last week the Spanish government announced it would promote reform in order to achieve an official and representative Muslim partner for the Spanish Administration.
Some Muslim organizations in Valencia reached an agreement to join forces and create a temporary commission in order to found the Islamic Commission of the Autonomous Region of Valencia. The Commission would unite 100 Islamic associations. It is conceived as a union of moderate and progressive Islamic entities and means to marginalize those associations that do not conform to the democratic values.
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 Islamic Commission of Melilla (CIM) is made up of four different Islamic entities in the city. On 8th January the Muslim population of the city was called to vote in the election for the president of the CIM. Controversy has surrounded the process.
One of the Muslim associations that comprises the CIM has denounced the lack of transparency and the existence of serious irregularities in the democratic process of election. Now, the same association is demanding a new election on the basis that the first was not legitimate.
Islamic finance is coming to Spain, where an estimated two million possible clients await in its potential market. The Halal Institute, the center of Islamic quality certification in Cordoba operating under the Spanish Islamic Commission, plans to sign an agreement for the creation of an Islamic current account with the Sa Nostra building society. Since 2006, the Halal Institute has been in talks with numerous banks on the issue of introducing Islamic finance. Some market analysts have forecasted that Islamic banking will be one of the cornerstones of a credit system re-launched by a worldwide recession and mounting discontent over market management. Islamic banking partnered between the Halal Institute and Sa Nostra is planned to be launched shortly, beginning first in the Spanish archipelago; a specific date has not yet been announced.
The city of Valencia breached an agreement of cooperation between the state and the Islamic Commission of Spain, which regulates the burial of Muslims in cemeteries. The city refused to give burial space in the General Cemetery and other locations that accommodates Islamic burial practices. The agreement between the state and the Islamic Community of Spain stems from a 1992 law giving the same recognition to Islamic communities right to grand land for burials in the necropolis and municipal property, and the right to their own precincts.
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).
The only Muslim in the legislature, Mohammed Chaib of the socialist group, said that the Islamic Commission must be restructured to be more democratic. He said that the commission was formed for the realities of the community from fifteen to twenty years ago and was not current to today’s Muslims.