Slovakia adopts law to block Islam gaining official status as religion

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SHAFAQNA – Slovakia passed legislation on Wednesday to effectively block Islam from gaining official status as a religion in the near future in the latest sign of growing anti-Muslim sentiment across the European Union. Sponsored by the Slovak National Party (SNS), which is a member of Prime Minister Robert Fico’s coalition, the legislation was passed on Wednesday.

The law was approved by a two-thirds majority in parliament, comprising both ruling and opposition parties. The new law more than doubles the required number of a religion’s followers for it to qualify for state subsidies and run its own schools. At least 50,000 members, against the previous 20,000, has now been set as a threshold for gaining official status as a religion.

“Islamization starts with a kebab and it’s already under way in Bratislava, let’s realize what we can face in five to 10 years … We must do everything we can so that no mosque is built in the future,” SNS chairman Andrej Danko said earlier.

Danko had called for steps to prevent the registration of Islam and ban the wearing of burqas in public and the construction of mosques and minarets.

The small central European country’s population is 5.4 million; 62 percent of it is declared Roman Catholic.

According to the last census, Islam has some 2,000 followers in Slovakia, adding that there are no recognized mosques in the central European country. The Islamic Foundation in Slovakia, which has not commented on the new legislation so far, puts the number at around 5,000.

EU difficulties in absorbing over 1.36 million new migrants since the start of 2015, and a series of attacks, have stoked anti-Muslim feeling across the EU and boosted the appeal of far-right, anti-immigrant parties, prompting a rightward shift of governing centrists ahead of key elections next year.

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