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January 2017 : New restriction concerning church registration in Slovakia

On October 26, 2016, the parliament discussed changes to the law on the registration of churches in Slovakia initiated by the Slovak National Party (SNS), which proposed to increase the condition for the registration, from 20 000 citizens of Slovak Republic to 50 000 or more. Slovakia’s far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia wanted to raise the number to 250 000, but their proposal was turned down by a majority of lawmakers. The new law more than doubles the number of followers required for a religion to qualify for example for state subsidies, or for running its own schools. On November 30, the law was approved by a two-thirds majority in parliament, comprising both ruling and opposition parties. Many commentators stressed that the bill effectively prevents Islam from being registered as a state religion in the near future. The changes in the legislation, that have not come into force yet, are strict. However, the current rules, which are still valid, are so restrictive that no new religious group can register and, thus, be recognised by the State. The existing requirement (since 2007) is to have more than 20 000 members, but there are only about 2 000 Muslims of all branches of Islam in Slovakia at present. The Islamic Foundation in Slovakia, which has not commented on the new legislation so far, puts the number at around 5 000. The discussion of the law was part of an anti-immigration and anti-Islam discourse. "Islamization starts with a kebab and it is already under way in Bratislava, let’s realize what we can face in five to ten years", said Andrej Danko, chairman of the Slovak National Party (SNS). "We must do everything we can so that no mosque is built in the future", he was also quoted. Strong anti-Islam discourse started during the election campaign in the spring of 2016, mostly raised by the far-right-wing party of Marian Kotleba ĽSNS.

On December 20, 2016, Slovak President Andrej Kiska refused to sign the new law on the registration of churches in Slovakia. He argued that the law is against several human rights and freedoms (for example, religious freedom) guaranteed by the Constitution of Slovak Republic.

On January 31, 2017, the bill was discussed again, and it was approved by 103 out of the 143 present deputies of the National Council of Slovak Republic. This change is considered a closing of an already blocked door, preventing all new and small religious groups in Slovakia to be recognised by the State.

20 février 2017