Government Proposes Censoring Imam's Sermons, Requiring Registration With Govt

May 4, 2004

Source: The Guardian,3604,1208815,00.html

On May 4, 2004 The Guardian reported, "The Spanish government is considering censoring the sermons of Muslim imams in an attempt to control the spread of radical Islamic ideas - a move that has been criticised as a lurch towards authoritarianism. The interior minister, Jos� Antonio Alonso, suggested the plan, which could also see a requirement that all preachers in mosques be registered. Mr Alonso told El Pa�s newspaper at the weekend: 'We really need to improve the laws to control Islamic radicals. We need to get to a legal situation in which we can control the imams in small mosques. That is where the Islamic fundamentalism which lead to certain actions is disseminated.' Yesterday he warned Islamic groups that 'religious freedom should not be used for other means.' The plan has received high level backing. The foreign affairs minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, told Telecinco: 'It is important that we know what is said in the Friday sermon. Mosques have sprung up in Spain in a completely uncontrolled fashion.' Earlier Mr Alonso had mooted the establishment of a register for the control of religious activities for all religions and not just Islam. 'The register would clearly state who is responsible for leading worship and what type of worship will take place,' the interior minister said. The plan to censor the content of sermons poses practical problems, not least because Islamic sermons tend to be improvised and in Arabic...[Angel Acebes, the former interior minister and now deputy leader of the opposition People's Party] said reintroducing censorship 'would be wrong and runs counter to the constitution,' adding that the the proposal was rash and had been given little thought."