Belgian media is reporting that the Belgian government has refused to recognize the Great Mosque of Brussels over fears of foreign influence. According to The Brussels Times article:
Federal justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) has declined to grant a new recognition to the Great Mosque in the Cinquantenaire park in Brussels unless there is a management change.
The Great Mosque had its recognition as a local faith community withdrawn last year after it was found to be under the influence of the Saudi Arabian government, responsible for the propagation of Salafist theology, seen as being extremist. The new application for recognition was supported by the main Muslim representative organisations, but was nevertheless turned down. The reason was that Belgian intelligence had found evidence that the departure of the Saudis from the running of the mosque had cleared the way for Morocco, which had installed its own representatives. There was even a suggestion of espionage being carried out by Rabat under cover of the mosque. Three of the mosque’s staff, including one director, were identified as members of Moroccan intelligence.
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The article further reports:
The Muslim Executive, the largest group representing Muslims in Belgium, has been ordered to purge itself of representatives of the Moroccan government. The same order has been given to the non-profit set up by the Executive to organise a new training programme for imams.
Past reporting by the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) on foreign influence over Islam in Europe has included:
- In November, the GIOR analyzed how foreign and transnational actors are influencing Islam in France.
- In November, the GIOR reported that Turkey had intensified its relations with Millî Görüş in Germany, a transnational Islamic movement covered by the GIOR.
- In October, the GIOR reported that the Dutch Parliament published an inquiry into foreign influence over the country’s Muslims.
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