Justice Minister tells Muslim Executive to put Grand Mosque’s “house in order”

The Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne has recommended that the Grand Mosque in Brussels not be given official recognition. Mr Van Quickenborne (Flemish liberal) is reported to have made the decision not to grand recognition to the mosque after having received a report from the State Security Service that that speaks of Moroccan state interference in the day to day running of the mosque. 

After the 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels and Zaventem (Flemish Brabant) the Grand Mosque in Brussels was the target of much criticism. The organisation that then ran the mosque the Islamic Cultural Centre of Belgium ICCB received its funding from Saudi Arabia and was a bastion of conservative Salafism. The Belgian authorities said that this had to change and in April 2019 ICCB had to vacate the mosque. Eventually the mosque was put under the management of the Muslim Executive, the elected body that represents Belgium’s Muslims.

However, it has now emerged that there are issues with the Executive’s management of the mosque.

Speaking on VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’ Mr Van Quickenborne said "The new management has made an application for official recognition and I have recommended that this is not granted because the security services have informed me that there is Moroccan interference and espionage at the  Grand Mosque. Morocco is doing this to get Belgian Muslims to eat out of its hand and this of cause is a serious problem”.

The State Security Service is reported to have discovered that several members of the Muslim Executive are Moroccan spies. "Certain figure are under the direct control of the Moroccan regime. In other words, they are preventing a Belgian form of Islam from developing here”, the Justice Minister said.

However, Mr Van Quickenborne’s recommendation doesn’t mean that the Grand Mosque will have to close. The day to day working will continue, but the official recommendation procedure will be suspended. The refusal to grant recognition is not definitive and the Muslim Executive can make changes to its application and put forward new names for the management of the mosque. Mr Van Quickenborne is adamant that recognition will only granted if the Muslim Executive puts the Grand Mosque's "house in order". 

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