Antwerp: Converts to open mosque

Converted Muslims will be opening their own mosque this year in Borgerhout (Antwerp).

"We ourselves are converts, but that doesn't mean that other Muslims aren't welcome," says Eric Bogaerts, now also called Ibrahim.

One of the reasons why the converts are establishing their own mosque is the language problem in the Turkish and Moroccan mosques. "The prayer is naturally done in Arabic. But the sermon is mostly in Berbers. Dutch is seldom the medium of communication in the mosque and that is a problem for us," says Eric Bogaerts.

The mosque will be lead by De Koepel. Bogaerts says that they are also kept busy with social tasks and funerals of converted Muslims. He has not gotten negative reaction from other Mosque organizations. "The initiative was well received and can moreover be a reason for the other prayer houses to deal with the language problem."

According to Bogaerts there is certainly a public for the Flemish mosque. "In all of Flanders there are about 150 converted Muslims and their number is still growing. Moreover everybody is welcome. Also people who are Muslim by birth." The mosque will be established at a building currently accommodating an African church. "We're helping these people in their quest for a new location and hope to open our prayer house in September of this year."

Antwerp imam Nordine Taouil attends to one to two new converts every day at the central mosque in Brussels. "the people who convert to Islam have different backgrounds," says Taouil. Taouil has no idea how many people convert to ISlam. "I offer religious support to people who convert," he says. "It must always be a voluntary conversion. Despite the negative image of Islam, more and more people are becoming Muslim. It's people who inform themselves about the religion."

Taouil regrets the establishment of a Flemish mosque, but understands the initiative. "Most mosques are ethnically slanted," he says. "You have for example Moroccan, Turkish or Pakistani mosques. In which their own language is used. I argue for a neutral mosque. A place where the religion is central and not the origin. Mosques where the language of communication is Dutch. I hope that the establishment of a Flemish mosque will get the other mosques thinking."

Source: rorate (Dutch)

1 comment:

Amina said...

now that's interesting...wonder if anythg like that can ever happen in poland