After having been taken away in January, the Belgium Executive is once again receiving subsidies. A Royal Order in the Belgian Official Journal granted 150,000 Euro to the Muslim Executive; the money was taken from the federal budget for religions. Minister of Justice Jo Vandeurzen, who is responsible for the administration of religions, postponed the subsidies after charges of forgery and abuse of public property were made against the Muslim Executive and the former president of the body. A new team was formed in May.
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.
The Belgian Muslim Executive hopes for a quick solution to the delay in the 2008 subsidies. Minister of Justice Jo Vandeurzen announced the delay the need to wait for reliable information about the financial situation of The Executive. Coskun Beyazgul, president of the Muslim Executive, says that they are in a financial crisis, and that he has hope that a solution would be found quickly. The Executive has no other means of income other than the Justice ministry subsidies, which are needed to pay rent and employees.
The Muslim Executive, the representative body of Muslims in Belgium, nominated eight Islamic communities for recognition. Two of the eight mosques nominated were denied recognition after negative advice was received from the State Security Service. A specific reason was not given. However, Minister Keulen said that the Muslim Executive notified him that the system of rotating imams would no longer be practiced in the mosques – a system that had previously been denounced.
BRUSSELS – The government of Flanders will officially recognise a total of eight mosques for the first time this autumn. The mosques will then be entitled to receive the same subsidies as other religious institutions. The recognised mosques will be spread over the various provinces and will also be divided among the Arab and Turkish-speaking communities. Minister for Integration Marino Keulen (Open VLD) has discussed this with the Muslim Executive, the representative organisation for Islam in Belgium. It will also take into account recommendations from the provincial governments, municipal governments and the state security service. Not all the recommendations have yet been submitted.