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Bart Dewaele

Muslim executive loses recognition

Belgian justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Flemish liberal) has withdrawn recognition from the Muslim Executive as the official interlocutor of the Belgian government representing the Muslim community of Belgium. The decision is seen as final.

The executive came under fire amid allegations of foreign meddling and lack of transparency. Mr Van Quickenborne says that he has given the executive all opportunities. He defends his decision as follows: “It’s a conservative club that doesn’t stick to agreements and shows no willingness for renewal and to represent the Muslim community and distance itself from the country of origin”.

It was in 1999 that the Belgian government first acknowledged the executive as the representative of Muslims in Belgium.  It is an administrative body that supports people training to become a faith teacher and organizes Islamic lessons in schools. It also helps mosques in their bid for official recognition and ensured the creation of Muslim burial places.

Last February the justice minister started proceedings to withdraw recognition.  He spoke of the executive’s dysfunctional nature while the state intelligence service warned of Moroccan state meddling and espionage at the Grand Mosque in Brussels.

Talks with the Muslim executive went nowhere.  The mandate of members of the executive lapsed in April 2021.

“Many Muslims belonging to the 3rd and 4th generation want to break loose from their country of origin and wish for representation but they hit a wall” says Van Quickenborne.  “I wish to offer a hand and in coming months we will ensure a team that is transparent and representative stands ready.  In return for 600,000 euros a year we are demanding transparency and that they are representative”.

A new body to represent Belgium’s Muslims will soon be created.  Meanwhile transitionary measures are in place to ensure continuity for dossiers.

A court recently convicted Belgium of meddling in the affairs of the executive and imposed a 5,000 euro fine.  Mr Van Quickenborne is appealing the decision. 

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