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A balance in dealing with foreign funding of Islam

PACE’s Political Affairs Committee has urged Council of Europe states to “put 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”.

However, in a draft resolution based on a report by Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE), the committee said that a general ban on all foreign funding was “arguably unreasonable and not necessary in a democratic society”.

“Not all foreign funding of religion is a problem in itself,” the committee added. “On the contrary, it can help to foster inter-faith dialogue and more openness in religious worship.”

But the committee said states should reject attempts by foreign organisations to put in place “a parallel society”. Efforts should be focused on measures promoting transparency, it said.

All religions should be treated on an equal footing, and any measures taken should not place the Muslim community under a “general suspicion”, which could lead to Islamophobia.

The committee also encouraged states to introduce and devote substantial means to courses that “promote an enlightened Islam”, such as the training of imams.