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Regulating foreign funding of Islam in Europe in order to prevent radicalisation and Islamophobia

Doc. 14617: collection of written amendments | Doc. 14617 | 09/10/2018 | Final version

Caption: AdoptedRejectedWithdrawnNo electronic votes

ADraft Resolution

1The question of foreign funding of Islam in Europe has occupied a prominent place in the public debate in many Council of Europe member States for a number of years now, and may raise certain concerns. The Parliamentary Assembly considers that whatever these concerns may be, member States must ensure that they do not result in widespread suspicion of foreign funding in general.
2Reiterating that, according to the Council of Europe’s European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), the right to request and receive voluntary donations, whatever the origin of the donations, is inherent to religious activities, the Assembly calls on member States to clearly reaffirm that not all foreign funding of religion is a problem in itself and that, on the contrary, it can help to foster inter-faith dialogue and more openness in religious worship.
3The Assembly notes that looking beyond the diversity in situations, in relations between States and religions and in the organisation of the Muslim faith itself and how it is funded, the questions that surround certain foreign funding of Islam touch on a reality which, despite the absence of global and aggregate statistics, cannot be denied.
4First of all, that reality concerns the use of religion by certain States as a means of exerting influence in a foreign country, which becomes a problem when it goes beyond simply providing support to a religious community to enable it to practise its faith freely and is designed either to export a radical form of Islam or to foster a sort of Islamic nationalism in the target communities.

09 October 2018

Tabled by Mr Akif Çağatay KILIÇ, Ms Arzu ERDEM, Ms Zeynep YILDIZ, Mr Ziya ALTUNYALDIZ, Mr Kamil AYDIN

Votes: 50 in favor 52 against 14 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 4, replace the words: "either to export a radical form of Islam or to foster a sort of Islamic nationalism in the target communities" with the following words: "to foster radicalism leading to terrorism and extremism in the target communities".

5In this connection, the Assembly refers to its Resolution 1743 (2010) “Islam, Islamism and Islamophobia in Europe” in which, already eight years ago, it had noted with concern that “some Islamic organisations active in member States have been initiated by governments abroad and receive financial support and political guidance from those governments. … National political expansion into other States under the disguise of Islam should be brought to light. … member States should require transparency and accountability of Islamic as well as other religious associations, for instance by requiring transparency of their statutory objectives, leadership, membership and financial resources”.
6With regard to the different types of measures taken by certain member States to regulate foreign funding of Islam, the Assembly urges member States to:
6.1put an end to any foreign funding of Islam which is used for the purpose of national political expansion into other States under the guise of Islam;

09 October 2018

Tabled by Mr Akif Çağatay KILIÇ, Ms Arzu ERDEM, Ms Zeynep YILDIZ, Mr Ziya ALTUNYALDIZ, Mr Kamil AYDIN

Votes: 107 in favor 14 against 4 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 6.1, before the word "used", insert the following words: "proved by objective criteria to be".

6.2reject all attempts at interference in their territory by foreign organisations which aim to put in place a parallel society, and not allow foreign funding to reach any organisations which undermine human rights and dignity and which oppose living together as guaranteed by the principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In particular, any foreign attempt to indoctrinate young people must be prevented;
6.3ensure full compliance with the framework established by the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5), the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the Venice Commission and the Assembly; this implies, in particular, that a general ban on all foreign funding is arguably unreasonable and not necessary in a democratic society, that regulations introducing discrimination between different religious groups on religious grounds must be banned and that any regulations governing funding should be proportionate;
6.4focus these measures on increasing transparency, for example through annual financial reports clearly identifying the origin of any foreign funding and how it is used, including funding received through informal transfer systems, such as money brokers or hawala networks. It also recommends involving Muslim organisations in this promotion of transparency, through preventive actions vis-à-vis donors and the entities which receive the donations.
7When more drastic measures are considered, such as a sweeping ban on foreign funding, the Assembly recommends:

09 October 2018

Tabled by Mr Akif Çağatay KILIÇ, Ms Arzu ERDEM, Ms Zeynep YILDIZ, Mr Ziya ALTUNYALDIZ, Mr Kamil AYDIN

Votes: 37 in favor 79 against 9 abstentions

In the draft resolution, replace paragraphs 7, 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 with the following paragraph:

"When any measure regarding the foreign funding of Islam is considered, the Assembly recommends to treat all religions on an equal footing and to refrain from placing the Muslim community under any general suspicion that may lead to Islamophobia and, on a broader level, from instrumentalising the question of foreign funding. When more drastic measures are considered, such as a sweeping ban on foreign funding, the Assembly also recommends to first organise a broad consultation, with clearly defined aims."

7.1first organising a broad consultation, with clearly defined aims;
7.2treating all religions on an equal footing;
7.3refraining from placing the Muslim community under any general suspicion that may lead to Islamophobia and, on a broader level, from instrumentalising the question of foreign funding.
8The Assembly notes that regulating the funding of the Muslim faith can have positive consequences regarding the organisation of a European Islam, by fostering the emergence of representatives to liaise with the public authorities. It is also convinced that the appropriate response to the rudimentary and literalist Salafist theology which cultivates the breeding ground from which terrorist acts can grow is an enlightened Islam. In this respect, it notes a fairly widely shared tendency in several member States to improve the level of training for imams, including theological training, and limit the intake of imams trained abroad.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 8, in the first sentence, replace the words: "organisation of a European Islam" with the following words: "integration of Muslim communities into European society".

09 October 2018

Tabled by Mr Akif Çağatay KILIÇ, Ms Arzu ERDEM, Ms Zeynep YILDIZ, Mr Ziya ALTUNYALDIZ, Mr Kamil AYDIN

Votes: 103 in favor 14 against 14 abstentions

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 8, insert the following words: "while consulting with the representatives of Muslim communities.".

9The Assembly therefore encourages member States to introduce courses that promote an enlightened Islam, calls on them to devote substantial means to this, which also meet the needs of the religious communities, and supports initiatives to set up European faculties of theology open to Islam.
10The Assembly also takes note of recent studies showing that the integration of Muslims in several European countries, as shown by their strong attachment to their countries of residence for example, seems to have progressed over the last 15 years, that features specific to them, in terms of their religious beliefs and their ties with their countries of origin or those of their ascendants, remain, and that they continue to be the victims of Islamophobic feeling on a significant scale.
11Referring to paragraphs 3, 13 and 20 of its Resolution 1743 (2010) and to Resolution 2076 (2015) on freedom of religion and living together in a democratic society, the Assembly calls on member States to take these specific features into account and to increase their efforts to combat Islamophobia, for while foreign funding can facilitate radicalisation, Islamophobia is also one of its breeding grounds.
12Lastly, the Assembly invites member States to implement the Action Plan adopted by the Committee of Ministers on “The fight against violent extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism”, while at the same time noting the importance the Plan accords, in its preventive proposals, to measures which encourage living together on an equal footing in culturally diverse democratic societies.