The Push to Ban Arabic Sermons in Europe’s Mosques

An imam holds Friday prayers at the Central Mosque in the German town of Hamburg
An imam holds Friday prayers at the Central Mosque in the German town of HamburgChristian Charisius / Reuters

Some politicians are calling for more “transparent” services for Muslims.


In several Western European countries, some politicians want to force imams to deliver sermons only in the official language: In Germany, imams should preach in German; it Italy, in Italian; in Britain, in English; in France, in French.To justify this requirement, two rationales are cited. Some say it will function as a counterterrorism strategy. Others say it will promote the social integration of Muslims. A few appeal to both lines of reasoning.

Germany’s Deputy Finance Minister Jens Spahn calledlast month for an “Islam law” that would make imams’ sermons “transparent,” saying that the authorities “had to know what happens in mosques.” He argued that imams should preach in German and that “imported imams lead to social disintegration.” Spahn, who also proposed an official registry for mosques, is a member of the executive committee of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union party. Other senior Merkel allies like Julia Kloeckner have joined the push for an Islam law, though a Merkel spokesman said this month that such a law is “not now” on the agenda.

In Italy, Islam isn’t officially recognized as a religion, even though it has an estimated 1.6 million adherents in the country. (The Italian Constitution requires non-Catholic faith groups to sign an accord or “intesa”  in order to be formally recognized, after which the groups gain the right  to take days off for holidays, to have their religious marriages acknowledged by the state, and so on.) However, in February, the Interior Ministry agreed to “facilitate the path” toward official recognition in an unprecedented arrangement titled the “National Pact for an Italian Islam.” But the government wanted something in exchange: Muslim organizations had to agree to a registry of their imams, and to a requirement that the imams sermonize in Italian. Interior Minister Marco Minniti described the document as a safeguard “against any form of violence and terrorism.”


3 replies

  1. This move is ‘silly’ or ‘not useful’ or ‘not appropriate’. Why? Everyone who studies the situation of ‘extremism’ knows that people are mainly ‘radicalized’ in the internet or at least outside of the mosque. Even ‘radical Imams’ will not talk ‘dangerous stuff’ in an open sermon, but rather later on in the back rooms. And anyway, you can get a translation if you like. Record it and translate it (where the translation is not already done for you).

  2. I favor German government in this issue. Friday sermons or other sermons should be given in German language or Other local language of the country they live in to integrate local muslims.

  3. This is a report by the Gatestone Institute that looks into the relationship between imams and mosques in Europe and the radicalisation of some worshippers. It seems to state that radicalisation is not just online but also via some Islamic preachers:

    e.g. an Islamic preacher was caught red-handed in Britain preaching for ISIS and jihad, and inciting youths to commit violence against non-Muslims. To everyone’s purported astonishment, he was not delivering his lectures on websites. He was delivering sermons live in a public-charity mosque — funded by taxpayers — in Stoke-on-Trent.

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