Spain To Subsidize Mosques
- Spanish Proposal To Partly Fund Mosques: Report
The proposal mainly aims to treat major religions on equal footing
CAIRO, July 26, (IslamOnline.net) - Spain is discussing a bill to
subsidize mosques in the country, in a bid to control financing from
radical groups abroad, according a US daily Monday, July 26.
The bill reflects a rife convention among Spanish counterterrorism
officials that the mosques are more open to the influences of
fundamentalist groups, the International Herald Tribune said.
The proposal is mainly aimed at treating major religions in Spain on
equal footing with the Catholic Church, which receives state funding
upon an agreement reached with the Vatican in 1979, the paper said.
The funding of the Catholic Church has caused constitutional
controversy in Spain , because it is theoretically temporary and
originally dedicated to help the church only until it could support
itself, according to legal scholars.
Extensions have been repeatedly granted to go on with the funding.
The current extension expires at the end of 2005.
Last year, the Catholic Church received about $170 million from the
government, according to the daily.
The proposal is also meant to seal off mosques from the influence of
groups Spain see as extremists in other countries.
"It's about keeping them from having to look outside for financing
because the state does not, in a way, support their activities,"
Antonio Camacho, the secretary of state security, told the paper.
Jesús Nuñez Villaverde, director of the Institute for the Study of
Conflicts and Humanitarian Action, for his part, urged the government
to exert more efforts to restrict religious expression, that is
funded through government channels.
"The state must do more to dilute the presence of fundamentalist
religious expression that is financed through its own channels, and
for which we have not one single instrument of influence, contact, or
Most of financing for the Spanish mosques comes from Saudi Arabia and
Morocco , but the money is difficult to be tracked, according to the
"Significant financing for Spanish mosques comes from Saudi Arabia
and Morocco , but the money trails are difficult to track", a Justice
For his part, Riay Tatary, secretary general of the Islamic
Commission of Spain, questioned whether mosques relied on money from
extremist groups abroad.
"Normally, they are financed by the worshipers," he said.
"Saudi Arabia had financed the construction of some of the mosques in
Spain, but that it no longer provided them with money," a spokeswoman
for the Saudi Embassy, Brigitte Scheffer, told the paper.
The proposal had drawn a storm of criticism from Islamic leaders and
civil liberties groups when was put forward by the Spanish government
in last May.
The bill suggested that the Spanish laws needed to be changed to
allow the government to monitor the religious sermons.
"As we are in Spain , it would be recommendable that they preach in
Spanish," a Justice official said.
"Not the prayers, which should be in Arabic in accordance with the
norms of the religion," he said. "But the sermons, yes."
Morocco had offered to help Spain monitor mosques and pick imams in a
bid to end "internal problems of extremism" in Spain .
Spain has a Muslim community of about 500,000 people out of a total
population of 42 million.
Europe has recently seen a wave of expelling imams for allegedly
adopting a "radical" religious discourse.
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