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New Czech mosques may be subject to local referendums

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Prague, Jan 21 (CTK) – The construction of some religious buildings, mosques in particular, may be subjected to tough regulation such as the consent by local residents in referendums, under the amendment to the construction law proposed by Karel Rais, a deputy for the Czech ANO movement.
The measure is not to relate to established churches. It should only be valid for the churches and religious societies that are not bearers of the “special rights” under the church law, Rais said.
Finance Minister Andrej Babis’s ANO is a member of the three-party coalition government, also comprised of the Social Democrats (CSSD) and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
“This does not cover the established churches. It relates to various sects and newly established churches. A sort of civic regulation should be applied if there are their construction projects,” Rais told CTK.
“This touches upon mosques, too,” he added.
Rais said he had been prompted to draft the legislation by the residents of a neighbourhood in Brno. They found out that Muslim religious facilities are being planned in the area, while no one asked them about the idea.
“This is a reaction to the residents’ rightful demands, in my case in Brno,” Rais said.
He said for the needs of the construction law, he wanted to define the religious building as the one serving religious purposes with the exception of those administered by the registered churches and religious societies which are bearers of the special rights under the church law.
The law stipulates that special rights include the right to teach religion at state-run schools, the right to hold ceremonies for a marriage and to establish church schools.
A church can gain the special rights if it fulfils the conditions set by the law such as the duty to publish its annual reports on its activities for ten years before the proposal that the statute should be granted to it.
These rights have not been granted to the Centre of Muslim Communities or the Vishva Guru Dip Hindu Mandir, Czech Hindu Community.
Rais has proposed that the conditions of the location of religious buildings be determined by the municipal zoning plan.
The decision on the location of a religious building should be made by a local referendum whose result would be binding.
Rais wants to insert his proposal in the amendment to the construction law the government has submitted to the Chamber of Deputies. Now it is committees are dealing with it.

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