Flemish government ‘cleaning up’ Islamic communities
Other state-recognized and state-financed religious communities in Flanders concerned about their future with the new Flemish decree
By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers
Photo: © Klaas De Scheirder
HRWF (14.06.2021) – After the deportation of a Turkish imam a few months ago, Minister of Domestic Affairs, Equal Opportunities and Integration of the Flemish government, Bart Somers (Open VLD), decided to put to an end the recognition and financing of a Pakistani mosque last week.
Pakistani mosque in Antwerp
On 8 June, Minister Somers decided last week to cancel the recognition of the Pakistani mosque in Antwerp named ‘Antwerp Islamic Association’. It had been recognized since 2007, which had made it eligible for financing by the Flemish government and the Belgian state.
Since 2016, the Islamic community has been embroiled in an internal conflict about the appointment of an imam.
The former imam recognized by the public powers had been dismissed by the Antwerp Islamic Association and replaced by a another one who is not approved by the Flemish government but who is approved by the Executive of the Muslims of Belgium (EMB), the official interlocutor of the Belgian State.
Minister Somers considered that the Pakistani Muslim community does not fulfill the recognition criterion of ‘social relevance’ any more which includes enduring relations with the local government and the local community (neighborhood) as well as social cohesion. The local police sometimes had to intervene in brawls opposing the followers of the two imams.
Deportation of a Turkish imam near Genk (Limburg)
Some HRWF comments
Concerns of other state-recognized religions