Francken wants tougher checks on radical preachers

The Secretary of State responsible for asylum and migration policy in Belgium’s Federal Government Theo Francken (nationalist) hopes to prevent Salafist preachers from obtaining papers to come to Belgium. Currently, the State Security Service can object to a residency permit being granted. However, according to Mr Francken, the big problem with this is that the State Security Service often doesn’t know the person in question and consequently doesn’t have enough information about him “So they make no objection”, Mr Francken says in a newspaper interview .

The Secretary of State says that it is no more than logical that Imams that preach a Salafist interpretation of the Koran should be subject to an investigation.

Salafism is viewed as the ideological basis for Islamist terrorism.

Mainly Imams for Qatar and Saudi-Arabia

Mr Francken believes that extra screening by Organ for Threat Analysis and Coordination (OCAD) of Imams from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Oatar would be a big step forward.

In addition to this Mr Francken says that he is to look into the possibility of the military intelligence service ADIV can be used in the screening process. ADIV is also able to mount operation outside our frontiers.

Mr Francken hopes to put his proposals before this Friday’s cabinet meeting. The Secretary of State is keen to stress that his proposal don’t mean that no Imam from Saudi Arabia or Qatar would be allowed to preach in Belgium “but it will more or less be the case”.

What will be done with radical clerics that are already here?

Speaking on VRT Radio’s 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De Ochtend’; Mr Francken, told listeners that radical preachers already here on one-year work permits could see their permits revoked.

However "However, things are more difficult for those with papers allowing long term residency. There are certain basic principles in the law on aliens that need to be respected.”
Nevertheless, Mr Francken is prepared to act if needs be. "If national security is at risk they can be overruled.”
 

"We should follow the Imans already here more closely”

The Ghent (East Flanders) Imam Brahim Laytous says that he has his doubts as to whether Mr Francken’s proposals will help stop Islamic radicalism. Mr Laytous says that it is more important that closer tabs are kept on the Imams already here.

"There are currently 165 mosques in Flanders of which just 28 are officially recognised. Let us start Imams that are already here and that are in contact youngsters”.