The Spanish Ministry of Justice considers a reform of the Islamic representation in
Spain to be necessary for the application of the future Law of Religious Freedom.
Currently there are 28 Islamic federations officially registered, but only two are part of
the CIE (The Spanish Islamic Commission). The government is threatening to cancel
the CIE financing as a measure to force the unification of the Islamic representation.
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.
The Spanish government is preparing a draft bill for reforms of the Freedom of Religion Law. The current law was defined in the Spanish Constitution of 1978, but the text was created and approved in 1980. It is possible that this draft bill will be presented in April of this year.
The objective of this new legal text is to better reflect the changing religious situation in Spain. Currently, the details of the text have not been disclosed, but it probably includes the elimination of all religious symbols in public institutions.
The Spanish government announced that it plans to modify its immigration policy. The changes focus on increasing family reunification criteria, extending the time authorities are allowed to keep undocumented under arrest, and create provisions facilitating immigrants’ return to their countries. The amended policies will also include incentives for immigrants to return to their home countries by making payments from their unemployment subsidy. The changes are set to be implemented starting in July, and is in response to Spain’s economic difficulties; approximately 20,000 immigrants are expected to be considered eligible for the new policy program.
African migrants trying to reach Europe find that entrance via Spain is the preferable route. The Spanish government says that illegal crossings by boat have decreased by 60% this year, compared to the previous year – about 31,000 illegal immigrants arrived by boat to the Canaries, which lies just 67 miles off the coast of northwest Africa. The plight taken by African migrants has sparked an increasing amount of media attention and concern. Immigrants from Latin America, Eastern Europe, and African now comprise about 9% of Spain’s population – with the majority from Morocco and Romania.
The Spanish government is considering censoring the sermons of Muslim imams in an attempt to control the spread of radical Islamic ideas – a move that has been criticised as a lurch towards authoritarianism. The interior minister, Jos_ Antonio Alonso, suggested the plan, which could also see a requirement that all preachers in mosques be registered. Mr Alonso told El Pa_s newspaper at the weekend: “We really need to improve the laws to control Islamic radicals. We need to get to a legal situation in which we can control the imams in small mosques. That is where the Islamic fundamentalism which lead to certain actions is disseminated.”