Turkish religious ministry Diyanet to try annulment of Flemish decree in Belgian Court

The Belgian branch of Diyanet, the Turkish ministry for religious affairs, intends to go to the Constitutional Court. The new recognition decree of local faith communities goes too far for them, write the Belgian newspapers Het Laatste Nieuws and De Standaard this Thursday 19 May.

At the end of last year, the decree ended a long-standing deadlock after the recognition freeze that former N-VA minister Liesbeth Homans had introduced in 2017. 

The new recognition decree contains many new conditions for religious communities.

"The decree mainly meant a restart for new mosques in our country, because a ban on recognition was introduced in 2017 in the aftermath of the attacks in Brussels and Zaventem," explains Belgian public broadcaster VRT.

For example, there is a ban on foreign interference and foreign financing and a mandatory register for all donations above 1,000 euros. The Flemish government has set up an information and screening service to closely monitor compliance with the conditions. Future applications for recognition also have to go through a four-year process, during which they are thoroughly screened by a new inspection service.

For Diyanet, these new measures are a thorn in the side. The Belgian branch of the Turkish government body — which has strong ties to Turkish President Erdogan — is therefore going to the Constitutional Court. The Diyanet mosques work almost exclusively with Turkish state imams, who are also paid by Turkey. That would become impossible with the new conditions.

"The fact that they are now trying to annul our decree proves how important it is," said Minister of the Interior Bart Somers (Open VLD). "Diyanet tries to control the Flemish by abusing religion." "We expected some resistance, but this is unprecedented," says Somers.

In the meantime, the cabinet is already preparing to defend itself through its lawyers.



© BELGA PHOTO (NICOLAS MAETERLINCK) - The Al Fath mosque in Ghent is the oldest mosque in Flanders, constructed 43 years ago.


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