Facing a mosque shortage, worshippers in Valencia have had to resort to praying outside. The Muslim community of the city has doubled in the past four years, making many of the mosques too small to accommodate the demand by worshippers. When mosques reach capacity, some have to pray outside while others drive up to 80 kilometers to available mosques.
Representatives of Valencia’s Islamic Cultural Centre have suggested that imams across Spain be paid a wage, in the manner of Catholic priests. Amparo Sanchez Rossell, head of the Centre, advocates awarding salary based on university qualification in training related to Islamic studies. According to Rossell, instituting a salary “would help prevent extremists becoming involved in the mosque”.
Newly drafted laws in the Catalonia region of Spain will limit immigrants in public and other colleges as part of a regional education law. The law will permit different percentages of foreigners in certain education areas, and those areas with too few foreigners will be able to increase the number of positions by up to 10% to let more in. What this means, however, is that a fixed limit on the number of foreigners in each area will be imposed, with the intent to avoid growing ghettos and slums. Meanwhile, a contract of integration will be set up for immigrants in the Valencia region. The contract would be part of a future regional immigrant integration law, as immigrants would have to sign the _contract for integration’ – described as an assumed model of coexistence and local values. Immigration and Citizenship Councillor Rafael Blasco described Valencia as a land open to all, provided residents are integrated in local values, customs, and traditions, so that the social cohesion of the region is not lost.
Several organizers are planning a symposium on May 9th in Valencia, to discuss the importance of the media, and how Islam is represented by various communication services. The primary goal o the meeting is to establish a roadmap or manual for journalists and journalism students that contains agreed upon consensus about issues related to the Islamic world. In addition, the aim is to promote a pluralistic and open debate about how to cover media information concerning the Islamic world, and to promote a two-way discussion to try to define some concepts that are presented in the media on a frequent basis, to avoid misinterpretation or biased views. The organizers of the symposium include the Islamic Cultural Center of Valencia and the Higher Council of the Valencia Region, and it is sponsored by the University of Valencia.
The Union of Muslim communities in Spain (UCIDE) claims that 1.13 million Spaniards (2.5% of the country’s residents) are Muslims, reports Vatican Radio. The largest group includes Moroccan immigrants, numbering approximately 565,000. There are also almost 35,000 native Spaniards who are converts to Islam. UCIDE is pushing for Islamic religion classes to be held in public schools of four Spanish regions with the highest concentrations of Muslims – Catalonia, Madrid, Andalusia, and Valencia.
Approximately one hundred immigrant associations across Spain announced that they would be marching in a dozen cities at 7pm on February 23rd, against the Partido Popular’s proposed policy of making immigrants sign a _Contract of Integration’ in Spain. The immigrant groups are also organizing a series of cultural events to coincide with the protest in cities including Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Pamplona, Burgos, and Seville.
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.