Swiss mosques and Muslim associations are in the spotlight after concerns by parliamentarians over the opacity of their funding and possible foreign influence.
“It’s naïve to say there is not a problem with the financing of Swiss mosques,” Doris Fiala, a centre-right Radical parliamentarian, told swissinfo.ch. “We have no clue who is financing what. We don’t know what money is coming in. There is no transparency.”
Last week she handed in two motions to be discussed in Bern, each backed by 25 parliamentarians, which urge the authorities to improve what she describes as ‘total opacity’ surrounding the funding of religious communities in Switzerland, in particular mosques and Muslim associations.
Fiala wants every association that benefits from foreign money to be listed in the commercial register so that their accounts can be supervised by an independent cantonal authority and auditor. She also wants religious foundations to become more transparent by forcing them to give more precise details on their goals when they are listed, and to be sanctioned when they do not comply.
Around 350,000 and 400,000 Muslims live in Switzerland, around 12% of whom are Swiss citizens. They represent an extremely diverse community divided along ethnic and linguistic lines with around 80% originating from the Balkans region and Turkey.
Around 12-15% are said to actively practice their faith by regularly visiting one of about 250 mosques. These are managed by Islamic communities which are organised mostly as small private associations as well as a small number of foundations.
While Muslims in Switzerland are generally well integrated, recent charges of radicalization in mosques in Winterthur and Geneva have led to questions about the surveillance of mosques, external influence and funding.
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