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July 15, 2008

Salafist mosques growing in Catalonia

Topics: Eurabia, Multiculturalism

I'm going to translate a post from my Spanish friend Crispal about Salafists mosques growing in Catalonia:

Following carefully and literally as possible, all of the teachings and laws stablished in the Quram and the Hadiths (sayings and actions from Mohammed) and imitating the way of life of the salaf (ancestors, in Arab), those who accompanied the prophet in the early days of Islam. This is the core of salafism, an ultraorthodox doctrine which has seen its followers multiplied in Catalonia.

The evolution of the number of Salafists praying rooms in Catalonia is the best proof of it. In the last four years their number has doubled. In 2004, they had 15, concentrated for the most part in Tarragona, nowadays they control between 27 and 30 mosques and their area of influence has extended itself to Lleida and Girona, according to the authorities. In Barcelona, their presence is still not very important.

Salafists build new mosques or make their way into an already existing one to achieve their expansion goals. Their method is simple. First, they try to convince the imam of letting them organise activities inside the mosque like readings or conferences about Islam. If he is not very favourable to that, they discredit him before the rest of the Muslims accusing him of not knowing correctly Islamic doctrine. They tell the believers that the Quram states the obligation of chaging the imam if he is not the adequate one, because if not, the praying is void.

Salafists themselves state that they control much more mosques than 30. "There are more than 50 salafist mosques in Catalonia", Said Hamduni says. He is the coordinator of the Reus mosque and one of the most active leaders of this "trend" in Catalonia. "I'm Salafist", he admits with pride and insists that "Salafism is the true Islam". "We follow literally Mahoma's teachings. If something is not written in the Quram or in the Hadiths, we don't consider it as valid", Hamduni explains.

Hamduni's biography is the one of a succesful immigrant. He arrived in 1993 in Catalonia, after taking in Morocco a bachelor's degree in Phylosophy. He worked hard to be a businessman. He now has a building company. "I work here, I have my family here, my business and here I pay my taxes. Nobody can tell me I am not integrated", he defies.

An important number of the leaders of the salafist movement in Catalonia have a similar profile. They are for the most part Moroccans (although there are some Algerians) who arrived in Spain in 1990s and who have been succesful with their businesses. The promotion of religious activity has granted them recognition within the community. A lot of them were dissipated as youths but have lived afterwards a process of religious rebirth.

An expert asked about this phenomenon by this newspaper confirms "the spread of salafism in Catalonia". But he adds that it is not an organised movement: "It's a doctrine which adds adepts daily. It does not have a hierarchy or a clear leadership". Why a so rigorist doctrine is so succesful with the Muslims in Western countries? "Because salafism is fascinating for them", he says, adding: "It offers simple and literal answers -just looking at what the Quram says- to very complex questions. As it's based on the texts, it's very easy to follow. And the fact that there are so clear moral rules, that the people even change their dressing way, produces an spectacular growth in the identity of the converted".

Just as the Christian ultraorthodox groups (the amish, i.e.) or the Jewish ones, Salafists dress in a very concrete way: to imitate the prophet's friends they change their looks. They grow beards and they use jellabah or lapped shirts and trousers whose legs cannot go under the ankles. In some cases, imams do not allow people wearing jeans to enter the mosque and have made pressure on the barbers not to shave their clients.

The changes in the used garments also affects the women. "They shouldn't mark their bodies with their dresses. That's what the Quram says. They should cover entirely, except the face and the hands", Hamduni says. But the Salafists have imported the niqab which covers the women entirely, except a little open space by her eyes.

Those changes are a consequence of their aim of underline their differences with the rest of society. In fact, the security forces are alerting of processes in which those religious groups in are trying to shield Muslim communities of the cities where they live. In some places, Imams have asked believers to reduce, as much as possible, their relationship with non-Muslims. Hamduni denies it: "We don't want to be apart from society. We only want to leave according to our religion".

This was published in the newspaper El Periódico de Cataluña (Spanish).

There are two things I must add: firstly, they don't say how the barbers are "convinced" not to shave Muslim clients. And, sceondly, this is the first time I read about a no-go zone in Spain: the shielding of their communities and the "asking" of the believers not to have any relationships with non-Muslims.

Posted by Eurabian at July 15, 2008 2:18 PM

Thank you very much for linking to my blog and translating the article into English.

Posted by: Crispal at July 16, 2008 10:19 AM

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