(Hudson New York) The municipality of Salt, a town near Barcelona where Muslim immigrants now make up 40% of the population, has approved a one-year ban on the construction of new mosques. It is the first ban of its kind in Spain.
The moratorium follows public outrage over plans to build a massive Salafi mosque that is being financed by Saudi Arabia. Salafism is a branch of revivalist Islam that calls for restoring past Muslim glory by forcibly re-establishing an Islamic empire (Caliphate) across the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe such as Spain, which Salafists view as a Muslim state that must be reconquered for Islam.
Much of Spain was ruled by Muslim conquerors from 711 and 1492; Salafists believe that the territories the Muslims lost during the Spanish Reconquista still belong to them, and that they have a right to return and establish their rule there – a belief based on the Islamic precept that territories once occupied by Muslims must forever remain under Muslim domination.
Sacrificing common sense on the altar of multiculturalism, the previous Socialist government in Salt secretly gave permission to the Salafi Muslims to build the mega-mosque, which, with four stories comprising 1,000 square meters (11,000 square feet) accompanied by towering minarets, would be the largest Salafi mosque in Europe.
The secret deal was only discovered after the Socialists were ejected from power in May 2011. Angry natives began pressuring the new town council – now ruled by the center-right Convergència i Unió (CiU) party – to prevent the mosque from being built. On August 24, the council approved the one-year ban on the building of new mosques in order to provide “some time for reflection.”
The Salafi mega-mosque may still be built, however, because the construction permit was issued before the non-retroactive moratorium took effect. The building permit, which is valid for a period of six months, expires at the end of September 2011.
Muslim radicals associated with two Spain-based Salafi groups, Al Hilal Islamic Cultural Association and Magrebins per la Pau Association, are now asking groups in Saudi Arabia to advance the funds needed to begin construction of the mosque within the next few weeks, before the building permit expires.
The Catalan nationalist party Plataforma per Catalunya (PxC) – which opposes not only the mosques but also Muslim immigration – attempted to hold an anti-mosque protest in Salt on August 27. PxC spokeswoman María Osuna said the party, which has some 70,000 active members, did not want Salt to become “the new Mecca of the most radical Islamism.”
But provincial law enforcement authorities banned the PxC demonstration after learning that Muslims from across Spain were organizing a counter-demonstration in the town on the same day. Fearing the risk of violence, the provincial interior ministry issued a statement saying that the anti-mosque demonstration would be banned because it could “hurt the religious feelings of the majority of Muslims in Salt.” Around 12,000 of Salt’s 30,000 inhabitants are Muslim immigrants.
A northeastern Spain municipality with a 40-percent Muslim population has reportedly banned the Muslim call to prayer also known as Azan.
Salt’s mayor Jaume Torramade has asserted that the proclamation to prayer was not to be heard in the municipality during his tenure.
He has accused the Muslim immigrants there of having leaned towards ‘radicalism’ over the recent years, the Hudson Institute policy organization reported.
In a recent interview, Torramade pointed out that “a few years ago, the Maghreb (Moroccan) women were more westernized, but nowadays one sees much less of that.”
“The large numbers of Muslim immigrants in Salt have attracted imams who are enforcing conduct and dress codes. Muslim women used to wear blue jeans, but now they cover their hair.”