European Council President Charles Michel has announced support for a “European Institute for the Training of Imams” to combat the spread of radical Islamic ideologies in the European Union.
Mr Michel stated that the EU should look at creating an institute to train imams to ensure “that this message of tolerance, of openness, can be conveyed at a European level (…), to ensure that the primacy of civil law is accepted.”
The former Belgian prime minister made his comments during a meeting that included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, 7sur7 reports.
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Speaking on radical Islamic terrorism, Michel stated: “We consider this terrorist threat to be a fundamental and serious threat to the values that underpin the European project and we do not intend to be weak or lax.”
“It is important to have common strategies to ensure the monitoring of these people. The deradicalisation process is not that simple,” the Council president said, referring to the Vienna terrorist attacker Kujtim Fejzulai who had tried to join Islamic State in the Middle East.
The concept of having imams trained in European countries with the sponsorship of EU member states is not new and has been discussed for well over a decade. In 2004, France appointed a commission of Muslim and non-Muslim scholars to look into training imams in the country.
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In 2016, German lawmakers proposed a tax on Muslims to fund domestic mosques and imams, so they did not have to rely on foreign funding from countries like Turkey or Saudi Arabia.
France has also considered putting restrictions on foreign funding for mosques as part of a proposal to reform Islam in the country, along with changing training practices of imams.