When investigating the Islamization of Europe, it’s important to remember a major difference between organized religions in Europe and their counterparts in the USA. In the United States, the government has no role in funding or managing the affairs of religious organizations. The First Amendment of the Constitution specifies this condition, and advocates of secular orthodoxy have helped stamp out any possible connection between government and religion over the last few decades.
But Europe is different. Most European countries have an official state-funded religion. Modern tolerance has mandated official recognition and funding of other religions, and, since the Multicultural Age is upon us, that now includes Islam. National governments help fund the building of mosques and churches, and official state recognition is a necessity for any religion that hopes to proselytize successfully.
SIOE Belgium reports that the Flemish Minister of Integration has granted official recognition to six mosques in Flanders. The Vlaams Belang website talks about the same issue, and our Flemish correspondent ProFlandria has translated excerpts from the VB article:
23 Dec 2007 — On Saturday [22 Dec] the Flemish minister for Home Affairs, Urban Policy, Housing and Civic Integration [Inburgering en Binnenlands Bestuur] Marino Keulen granted official recognition to the first six mosques in Flanders. Recognition is still pending for another two mosques. Starting next year, the recognized mosques will be subsidized and the imams will receive regular pay.
The fact that one of the six recognized mosques is the Pakistani mosque Noor Ulharam built by the non-profit Antwerp Islamic Association… proves that the whole procedure for recognition was a farce. Towards the end of 1999, two of the administrators of the non-profit were compromised when a police investigation determined that that they had been involved in laundering large amounts of criminal funds. Zafar Ali Mughal and Javed Anwar both resigned from the non-profit in 2002. Construction on the Noor Ulharam mosque started in 2000; the mosque is 655 square meters [just over 7000 sq. ft.], three stories high, has two minarets, and is estimated to have cost 1 to 1.5 million Euros. In 2005 Noor Ulharam mosque appeared on the list of extremist and terrorist organizations of the Antwerp section of the federal police. The recognition file also reveals that the mosque uses a Pakistani-imported imam who does not know Dutch. [This imam,] Zia Sialvi, [is] a Salafist who until recently lived and preached in Lahore (Pakistan). Muhammed Zia Sialvi received his religious instruction in fundamentalist Islam schools (‘Ahl-as Sunnah wal Djama’ah’ school in Pakistan, as well as the school of fundamentalist Sheik Ahmed Kaftarou from Syria).
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Vlaams Belang is opposed to financing the mosques with Flemish tax revenues. After all, recognizing and financing mosques and imams facilitates the extension and reinforcement of an Islamic pillar which resists the integration of the persons of foreign origin [allochtonen] who live here. Moreover, Islam is not only a religion but a political ideology which is hostile to Western values such as democracy, freedom of expression and the equality of men and women. This is why Vlaams Belang takes the position that Flanders needs less, rather than more, Islam. Minister Keulen’s theory is wrong: supporting and financing Islam will not lead to the Europeanization of Islam, but to the Islamization of Europe.
Filip Dewinter will protest minister Keulen’s recognition decision regarding the Noor Ulharam mosque of the non-profit Antwerp Islamic Association to the State’s Council [Raad van State — a legal Ombudsman at the confluence of the Constitutional powers which resolves disputes that may arise from illegal administrative actions] because the conditions for recognition were not met.
Vlaams Belang is obviously not a neutral party in this discussion, so ProFlandria has also included a translation of an article from the Antwerp daily Gazet van Antwerpen:
5 Dec 07 — We have written it before: Filip Dewinter has already started his campaign for the 2009 elections [for mayor of Antwerp]. The whole thrust of the campaign is based on “Belgium Cracks Up” and “Stop the Islamization”. The tactics are clearly based on provocation. One example is organizing protests to provoke hard reactions from security forces or counter-protesters. Yesterday added a new element: a CD-single with an anti-mosque song, to be distributed in neighborhood pubs and on the internet.
Needless to say we don’t thank Filip Dewinter and VB for this new stunt [Gazet van Antwerpen has been an “establishment” paper for the last 10-15 years]. However, he has a point where the uncontrolled spread of mosques is concerned, at least in Antwerp. The city currently has 36 of these prayer houses, and that’s without counting the ‘garage mosques’. As long as there is a demand for this, we don’t see a problem. But we do have some serious questions concerning the controls on organizations that run these mosques. Do they work with non-Dutch speaking imams [breach of Belgium’s language laws] or imported imams from extremist countries? We don’t know. Some time ago the City Council had to assent to several recognition cases based on one meager information sheet per mosque. It is only logical, then, that apart from VB, several council persons of VLD/N-VA and Open VLD protested this state of affairs.
Especially the arrival of a new mosque on the Van Kerckhovenstraat [Noor Ulharam] appears questionable. The prayer house is an initiative of the Antwerp Islamic Association (AIA) which is mainly represented by Muslims from Pakistan and India. Several former administrators have a judicial past related to money-laundering and forgery. Is this expensive mosque possibly financed with tainted funds?
Even worse is AIA’s appearance on a list of fundamentalist Muslim meeting points, compiled by the federal police in 2005. As early as 2002 the police and the district attorney’s office stated in an investigation report: “Information from State Security and the Criminal Investigation Department reveals that Pakistani networks, which may possibly be linked to international terrorism, have established themselves in the Antwerp area.” AIA apparently also imported a non-Dutch speaking radical Pakistani imam to serve the mosque.
ProFlandria includes his own commentary on the issue:
I have to add something here that may be something of a surprise to American readers: in Belgium, the government can officially recognize religions which in effect provides government funding as well as regular pay to the religion’s “employees”. In effect, recognized religions (the Anglican, Catholic, Jewish, Orthodox, Muslim, and Protestant-Evangelical religions) in Belgium are subsidized with tax revenue.
I find it interesting, though, that in this case the minister of Flanders has seen fit to recognize individual mosques and their employees. I think the reason is that (as yet) there is no clear national Muslim organization charged with the management of the religious (as opposed to societal) life of Islam in Belgium. This could be a great opportunity to vet individual mosques and imams for subversive and/or violent preaching. Not surprisingly, the painfully tolerant unbelievers have once again sacrificed at the altar of tolerance and diversity.
The VB website’s information does not conflict with the substance of the observations of the “mainstream” Gazet van Antwerpen. VB adds their own action in regard to countering this decision; GvA adds some detail with the quote from the 2002 investigation report. I would call this one sufficiently documented to accept as true — although there is nothing that really pops up in the MSM.
It appears the usual suspects are only too happy to give this story the appearance of a minor local dispute by treating it with benign neglect.
Another Flemish reader sends his own report:
Filip Dewinter wrote about that mosque on his blog.
It makes me think of the huge Westermoskee project in Amsterdam. The city government and mayor Cohen subsidized it with 2 million euros through a very weird land deal. But the construction has stopped since the row between the board of that mosque and Milli Gorus, a militant Turkish group that took over the mosque.
The city council, however, has already removed a war memorial, probably because it had a white cross.
Some “right-wing” youngsters wanted to protest and were attacked by the militant Marxists of AFA [Antifascistische Actie, “Antifascist Action”].
Flanders is not an isolated case: the same situation is replicated across Europe in any country with a substantial population of Muslim immigrants.
Hat tip: White Elefant.