16 December 2004
BRUSSELS – The Belgian state is to fund the wages of 245 imams in a bid to end discrimination against the Islamic faith.
Although Islam has been recognised as an official religion in Belgium for the last 30 years, it hasn’t been given the perks of other beliefs.
On Thursday, the federal parliament voted to grant EUR 4.83 million in 2005 to pay for imams in around 100 mosques.
Under the new law, Belgian’s regions must first recognise the mosques involved. Then the Justice Department will appoint the state imams on the recommendation of the Belgium Executive of Muslims – the organisation which represents the 400,000 Muslims that live in Belgium.
The funding is a significant financial boost for Belgium’s mosques. Last year, Islam was granted just 0.5 percent of the overall religious budget, with EUR 1.27 million. The Catholic Church was given 88 percent of the cake, almost EUR 202 million.
Next year, some churches will not receive funding for assistant curates, a decision made partly because there is a shortage of curates.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news
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