Holland re-allows foreign preachers

After suffering from rigid restrictions, Muslims stand to benefit from a new decision taken by the Dutch government under pressures from church groups.

Holland re-allows foreign preachers

After suffering from rigid restrictions, Muslims stand to benefit from a new decision taken by the Dutch government under pressures from church groups to re-allowed the appointment of preachers from outside the country and Europe.

"It is a step in the right direction, anyway," Idris El-Boujoufi, a senior Muslim community leader, told IslamOnline.net.

"In practical terms, past measures introduced by the government didn't allow the appointment of foreign imams," he said. "They actually emptied mosques from qualified imams."

Under the new rules, which entered into fruition on Monday, July 23, all religious institutions, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish, would be allowed to enlist foreign preachers from outside the Netherlands and Europe.

They would neither be obliged to register vacancies with the Center for Work and Income (CWI) nor look for qualified candidates first in European countries.

The new decision came after intense pressures and protests from the Catholic and Protestant churches, seeking to appoint vicars from abroad to meet a serious shortage.

The government bowed to the church pressures and opened the door also to foreign imams for equal treatment.

Under the defunct system, religious institutions had to recruit from inside the Netherlands, or other European countries before finally resorting to preachers from other world countries.

Extremism

Boujoufi said mosques in the country took the brunt of the restrictions and were left in a dire need for qualified imams.

According to unofficial statistics, there are 140 mosques without imams or are being served by unqualified imams across the European country.

There are some 500 mosques, 1,000 Islamic cultural centers, two Islamic universities and 42 preparatory colleges in the Netherlands.

Boujoufi said the new decision would help steer vulnerable young Muslims from extremists.

"We want to shield our youths against extremists," he said.

Many foreign imams have left the Netherlands for more tolerant European countries in the wake of old government policies, which made life harder for foreigners.

Minister of Integration Rita Verdon has launched a number of programs in cooperation with colleges like Inholland and Islamic organizations to groom homegrown imams.

The programs came after parliament approved new measures to combat extremism, including an annual state budget to train and qualify homegrown imams so that the country would reach self-sufficiency by 2008.

The government has so far allocated more than five million euros for the programs.

Dutch Muslims make up one million of the Netherlands's 16 million population, mostly from Turkish and Moroccan origin.

IOL

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Temmuz 2007, 10:17
YORUM EKLE