In Flanders, the Minister of Coexistence, Bart Somers, said more than 75 mosques have applied for recognition about 3 years ago but have been kept waiting as the Muslim Executive “is not cooperating.”
Due to the lack of recognition framework, Flanders has not recognised even a single mosque since 2013. For that reason, Somers has prepared a new law with clear conditions for the recognition of mosques.
“The latest decree has been enforced for a quarter now. We have received signals from the field that various mosques are waiting to be recognised, but the Muslim Executive does not provide us with the applications,” he said in a press release on Monday. “Our Muslims of Flanders deserve better, and the Muslim Executive leaves them in the lurch.”
For Somers, this signifies that Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne had taken the appropriate decision last week when he announced he would revoke the recognition (and the financial assistance) of the Muslim Executive after sustained suspicion of global influence, malfunctioning and radicalism.
Somers stated that “The Muslims of Flanders are an integral part of our society. The vast majority of them do not care about international interference or a representative body that persists in classifying them on the basis of their countries of origin, even if they are already the 3rd or sometimes even the 4th generation.”
Moreover, in practice, before 1 July 2019, more than 75 mosques had already applied for recognition, but the Muslim Executive has not presented a single application for recognition to the Minister since the new rule came in force.
“Nothing says that all these 75 mosques will now apply for recognition again,” Somers said. “Some files are no longer relevant, and some will have lost interest now that we have tightened the rules. However, several mosques in Belgium have been waiting for recognition for years, and yet there is no recognition file on my table yet.”
The last time mosque recognition was done was about 10 years ago.
Since 2017, no new local faith communities have been recognised in Flanders due to the absence of a precise recognition framework. The last mosque which was recognised was back in 2013, nearly ten years ago. With Somers’ new law, however, this recognition stop came to an end a quarter ago.
The Federal government of Belgium decides which religions are recognised, but the regions are in charge of recognising the local religious congregations. Flanders has around 1,700 local religious congregations, of which more than 1,580 are Roman Catholic.