The Federation of Swiss Islamic Organizations (FIDS) and the Coordination of Islamic Organizations in Switzerland (KIOS) announced recently their intention to merge and create a “religious parliament” in order to represent the Muslims of Switzerland and receive official recognition from the state.
Andreas Tunger-Zanetti, specialist of Islam and coordinator of the Center for Religious Studies at the University of Lucerne, believes however that there are still too many obstacles in the way before recognition on the state level would be possible. He highlights especially the low degree of institutional organization in Islam, while also pointing out that the issue concerns perhaps only 15% of “Muslims” in Switzerland, i.e. those who practice their faith. Moreover, given the ethnic cleavages among Muslim immigrant groups which still persist, he states that it is still too early to begin speaking of a unified movement.
The philosopher Şeyla Benhabib has identified a deficit in Germany’s democracy. She calls for the right to vote in local elections for non-nationals – and the same legal status for Islam as for other religions. “From the equal rights point of view, Islam has to be acknowledged as a religious community. There’s room for discussion on which form this should take and what consequences it should have, but the first priority is to abolish this plain and public form of unequal treatment. It is blocking the debate.”
The Belgian Security Service advised against officially recognizing the Attakwa mosque in Kortrijk, saying that there are certain teachers in the mosque who take extreme points of view when teaching Quran classes on Saturday mornings. The interior minister and justice minister Stefaan De Clerck agreed, saying that it is possible that the mosque may be up for re-examination in the future, but it must first guarantee that extremist teachers will not be offered opportunities in the Attakwa mosque. Local mayor Lieven Lybeer plans to discuss the concerns with the mosque in its next meeting, and will discuss proposed solutions that mosque administration should take, in order to move forward with official recognition and steps towards “positive integration.”
The king signed a decree granting official recognition to 50 imams working in 43 mosques, recognized by the Wallonia region. The imams will receive their salaries from the state beginning next month, just as Catholic parts do. Five mosques in Brussels, and at least seven in Flanders have yet to receive official recognition.
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.
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.