Minister proposes 5-year trial period for places of worship seeking official recognition

The Flemish Interior Minister Liesbeth Homans (nationalist) wants to tighten the procedures for the official recognition of mosques and other places of worship. If her plan is approved, official recognition (and the subsequent funding) will not be granted to any additional places of worship in Flanders for the next 5 years. The news first appeared in the daily ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ and has since been confirmed by the Minister in a conversation with VRT News.     

In 2017 Liesbeth Homans decided to temporarily stop granting recognition to any new mosques. The decision was taken as Ms Homans said that she wasn’t being given enough information about the way the mosques were operating. In the same year Ms Homans also withdraw the official recognition from Fatih Mosque in the Limburg municipality of Beringen.  

The Minister commissioned a study from Leuven University into how the rules for recognition of places of worship could be tightened. The study has now been complete and based on its findings Ms Homans has made a number of proposals.   

These include extending the trial period before a place of worship is given recognition from 3 to 5 years. During this period they will have to abide by a series of condition such as “For example financial transparency, no financial gifts from abroad…” before they can be considered for recognition.   

"If they have shown for 5 years that they can abide by the criteria, then they could eventually be granted recognition”, Ms Homans said.