Slovakia toughens church registration rules to bar Islam
Reuters, November 30, 2016 
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. 
The  former communist state has fiercely resisted EU efforts to cope with a 
big  influx of mainly Muslim migrants into Europe since 2015, in part by 
opposing  quotas to share out asylum seekers among EU members. Prime Minister 
Robert  Fico's government has said Islam has no place in Slovakia. 
Parliament  adopted a bill sponsored by the Slovak National Party (SNS), 
junior member in  Fico's coalition, that requires a religion to have at least 
50,000 members, up  from 20,000, to qualify for state subsidies and to run 
its own schools. 
The  change will make it much harder to register Islam, which has just 
2,000  adherents in Slovakia according to the last census and no recognised 
mosques.  The Islamic Foundation in Slovakia estimates the number at around 
The  SNS said the new law was meant to prevent speculative registrations of 
churches,  such as the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, 
which has amassed  followers worldwide. 
"Islamisation  starts with a kebab and it's already under way in 
Bratislava, let's realise 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 
Danko said earlier. 
There  was no immediate comment from the Islamic Foundation. 
The  law was approved by a two-thirds majority in parliament comprising 
both ruling  and opposition parties. Lawmakers turned down a proposal by the 
opposition  far-right People's Party-Our Slovakia to raise the religion 
membership bar to  250,000. 
The  small central European country's population is 5.4 million; 62 percent 
of it is  declared Roman Catholic. 
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. 
EU  difficulties in absorbing over 1.36 million new migrants since the 
start of  2015, and a series of Islamist 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 
next  year.

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