Belgian media is reporting that the Belgian government has decided to withdraw recognition and funding from the Muslim Executive, the official interlocutor between the government and organized Islam in the country. The government claims the umbrella group, suspected of foreign influence, doesn’t represent all Muslims and is “detrimental to modern Islam.” According to a report in the Brussels Times:
February 18, 2022 Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne has decided to withdraw the recognition of the Muslim Executive – the official representation of Islam in Belgium – after the organisation has been under sustained criticism. The Muslim Executive receives approximately €600,000 in subsidies per year but is suspected of foreign influence from Turkey and Morocco, as well as malfunctioning and radicalism. “I have started the procedure to withdraw the recognition of the Muslim Executive,” Van Quickenborne announced on Flemish radio on Friday morning. “That means that we will no longer provide subsidies and that their role will then disappear.” He added that the body is not representative of all Muslims in Belgium. “There is an older generation, which has lost all contact with young Muslims, that is in charge here. This is detrimental to modern Islam. This executive can no longer be a discussion partner.”
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The Muslim Executive of Belgium (Exécutif des Musulmans de Belgique, EMB) is elected by around 300 mosques in Belgium of which many have been linked to foreign and transnational influence actors such as Turkey, Morocco, or the Millî Görüş movement. Belgian public media has identified EMB member Rassemblement des Musulmans de Belgique as a group that represents Moroccan Islam and is financed directly from Morocco. The article also says that foreign influence is especially notable in another umbrella organization which is part of the EMB and which includes the Diyanet, and the Rassemblement as well as Millî Görüş. The Belgian Diyanet Foundation controls around 70 mosques in Belgium and is the Belgian branch of the Diyanet, Turkey’s state institution for managing religious affairs.