Belgian media is reporting that the country’s Justice Minister has asked State Security to investigate the Muslim Executive, the body representing the country’s Muslims, to determine the extent of foreign influence. According to the Brussels Times report:
October 7, 2021: Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne has ordered the civilian intelligence service to investigate the affairs of the Muslim Executive, the body that represents the country’s Muslims.Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) revealed his plans on last night’s broadcast of the investigative documentary series Pano on the VRT, which was looking at foreign influence on the Executive. The Muslim Executive was set up to represent the interests of all Muslims in Belgium but some groups have long complained that powerful outside interests, principally Saudi Arabia and its client states, exercise too much power behind the scenes, to the disadvantage of more liberal factions.[…]
The object of the audit is to determine the extent of foreign interference in the affairs of the Executive, he said. ‘There are reports from within this country, but also from abroad, which show that organisations such as Diyanet [Turkey’s official state Directorate of Religious Affairs] and the Rassemblement des Musulmans de Belgique are vehicles for foreign governments to keep a grip on the Muslim community.”
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Belgian public media identifies the Rassemblement des Musulmans de Belgique as a group that, despite its name, represents Moroccan Islam and is financed directly from Morocco. The article also says that the foreign influence is especially notable in another umbrella organization which is part of the Muslim Executive and which includes the Diyanet, and the Rassemblement as well as Millî Görüş, a Turkish religious and political movement which has called for an end to the secular regime in Turkey.
The GIOR has reported on the German government’s assertion that Turkish President Erdoğan’s AKP party has intensified its relations with Millî Görüş in Germany. We have also reported that Belgian State Security investigated a mosque connected to the Millî Görüş movement and headed by the chairman of the Muslim Executive, Mehmet Üstün.
The Belgian Diyanet Foundation (Turkish: Belçika Diyanet Vakfı) controls around 70 of the approximately 300 mosques in Belgium and is the Belgian branch of the Diyanet, Turkey’s state institution for managing religious affairs. In Belgium, believers buy or have a mosque built at their expense and hand it over to the Belgian Diyanet Foundation. The Diyanet then sends a Turkish-trained imam and pays his salary, much like the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) in other European countries.
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