Salafist Muslims in Rotterdam have bought a 7,000 square metre former trade school and are turning into an educational institute, the NRC said on Friday.
The sales agreement was signed by a Dutch Egyptian with links to controversial Muslim organisations in the Netherlands and was bought via a German property firm with money from the Middle East, the NRC reported.
While this is not illegal, it does go against government efforts to get a grip on the financing of Salafist organisations in the Netherlands, the NRC said. Neither the city council or locals were aware of the sale, the paper said.
Parliament in December passed a motion calling on the cabinet to look into banning Salafist organisations because they are, according to the security services, a breeding ground for jihadism. Salafism is an ultra-conservative movement within Sunni Islam, and a small proportion of its followers – known as jihadi Salafists – believe in violence.
Freedom of religion
However, the government ruled out a ban, saying it would conflict with the individual right to freedom of religion.
The city council has now told the paper it plans to talk to the people involved in the project to find out more about their plans. Several small religious organisations are said to also planning to move into the property.
Terrorism expert Edwin Bakker told the paper he considers a Salafist institute to be ‘undesirable’ and is concerned about the financing of the deal. ‘Will be board be free to do as they like or will people in Saudi Arabia determine what happens there,’ he said.
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