The future Zaramaga neighbourhood mosque in the city of Vitoria has become one of the hot spots of the campaign in that city. The Popular Party has amplified complaints by some neighbours that question the construction permit granted by the City Hall. Now, the Muslim community, which had been working on the project for months with no one expressing its rejection, has to face increasing hostility from some residents, who have even called for a public demonstration.
December 9th, 2010
Representatives of the Islamic communities of Álava, Vizcaya y Guipúzcoa – mostly Moroccans and Algerians, but also of Senegalese origin – gathered in Vitoria, summoned by Spanish converts to Islam, to establish The Basque Muslim Council, and advisory organization created with the aim of becoming the main interlocutor for the Muslim population in the Basque region. Vitoria alone is home to more than 5.000 people that profess the Islamic faith. To date, Muslims organize around their mosques and cultural associations, so that institutional relations are limited to the municipalities, or provincial administration. The Muslim Council intends to be a body of communication and coordination between the different Muslim communities settled in the País Vasco, and of representation respect to the Basque government.
The municipality of Vitoria is to consider the construction of a cemetery to suit the needs of its Muslim population, The city will meet this fall with representatives from its five mosques and the Islamic Communities Union in the Basque Country to negotiate the project, whose initial discussions date to the late 1990s when the Vitorian Mayor’s office destined 1,000 square meters in El Salvador for this use. The recent inauguration of a Muslim cemetery in Derio (opened in Oct, 2008 inside the Christian cemetery already built) seems to have provided new support to the project, explains Union President Ahmed El Hanafy.
The new cemetery would allow the believers to save the huge costs of sending the corpses back to their countries of origin. “We are not speaking about immigrants, but of the new generations, of Vitorian Muslims who want to be buried according to Islamic rituals“, says El Hanafy.
In the northern city of Vitoria, Spanish police arrested three people suspected of trying to promote radical Islam on Thursday. According to police, the three distributed CD’s and MP3 files calling for a jihad or holy war among the city’s Muslim population. The group had allegedly been distributing the recordings before their computers, hard drives, MP3 players and CD’s were seized. Police began investigating the Vitoria group in December, and moved to arrest the three following an order from Spain’s High Court.