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News by Fred Alan Medforth
Thursday, December 01, 2016
Slovakia Bars Islam from Becoming Official Religion
Slovakia’s parliament has passed a bill by a two-thirds majority, effectively barring Islam from gaining official status as a religion.
The former communist state has fiercely resisted European Union (EU) efforts to use quotas to forces member states to accept mainly Muslim new arrivals, welcomed to the continent by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The nation’s left-wing prime minister, Robert Fico, has repeatedly said Islam has no place in Slovakia.
The new bill requires a religion to have at least 50,000 members (up from 20,000) to qualify for state subsidies and to run its own schools, Reutersreports.
This will make it harder to register Islam. According to the latest census, the religion has just 2,000 followers in Slovakia and there are no recognised mosques.
The Islamic Foundation in Slovakia estimates the number could be as high as 5,000.
The Slovak National Party (SNS), a junior member in Mr. Fico’s ruling coalition, sponsored the bill.
The party argued the new law was meant to prevent the registration of joke churches, such as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
“Islamisation starts with a kebab and it’s already under way in Bratislava, let’s realise what we can face in five to 10 years,” SNS chairman Andrej Danko told Reuters.
However, he also said: “We must do everything we can so that no mosque is built in the future.”
Mr. Danko has previously called for steps to prevent the registration of Islam and ban the wearing of burkas in public.
The small Central European country’s population is 5.4 million and 62 per cent of the people are declared as Roman Catholic.
Speaking in May of this year, Mr. Fico said “that migrants… change the character of our country”.
“We do not want the character of this country to change. Let’s be honest and say that will not happen in Slovakia,” he added.