Rabat – Following its application for recognition as a local faith community, the mosque in Cinquantenaire park in Brussels, Belgium, faced accusations of being under the influence of Moroccan intelligence.
Belgium’s Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne claimed that the infiltration lies within the mosque’s administration. He claimed the director and two other employees are “Moroccan spies.”
According to Quickenborne, these individuals have been “taking control” of the mosque’s direction for years.
On the basis of these claims, Belgium denied the mosque the mosque the right to the title of a local faith community.
Located near the European Union’s headquarters, the Grand Mosque of Brussels lost its status in 2019, after the Belgian government considered it was under the influence of Saudi Arabian Salafist theology.
Belgium’s Muslim Executive denied the minister’s allegations, labeling them as unfounded. “There are no spies here … I would stake my life on it,” spokesperson Tahar Chahbi told VRT Radio.
The Muslim Executive is the largest group representing Muslims in Belgium.
The Belgian official told VRT Radio on December 4, that all members of the Muslim executive “must be restaffed with Muslims who mean well to our country.”
Chahbi went on to accuse Minister Van Quickenborne of playing politics. He insisted that “there was no problem” when former Justice Minister Koen Geens and his predecessor Annemie Turtelboom occupied the position.
Van Quickenborne also raised the question of the lack of women within the Brussels mosque’s administration, calling on Belgian Muslims to “make a difference” in this regard. “We really can’t go on this way,” he fumed.
Belgium’s Muslim Executive said that the minister should not interfere with domestic matters, otherwise, he should do the same with the Jewish and the Catholic Church. They questioned the minister’s moviations, asking why he is not bothered by the fact that there are no female priests or Rabbis.
“Women are represented, and they are respected,” the group concluded.
Moroccan authorities are yet to respond to Van Quickenborne’s allegations.
The interaction between Belgian justice and the Muslim executive comes amid a tense context, marked by Islamophobic and racist attacks against Arabs and Muslims as well as a number of extremist crimes in neighbouring France.
The Belgian minister’s call for the restaff of the Muslim executive follows Macron’s call on leaders of the French Council of Muslim Faith (CFCM) to create a council to designate and certify Muslim preachers, or imams, in France.