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Islam Arrives in the Basque Country
by Soeren Kern
The Basque regional government in northern Spain is drafting a controversial new Law on Religious Institutions, which states that mosques and prayer rooms with a capacity of fewer than 300 people will no longer require prior local government approval.
The draft law is generating considerable opposition from elected officials of all political stripes, who fear the new measure will encourage the proliferation of mosques throughout the Basque region.
The mayor of the Basque capital Vitoria-Gasteiz, Javier Maroto, said in an interview that the practical effect of the new law will be that "any fruit and vegetable shop can be converted into a mosque and there will be nothing we can do about it." He has promised to fight the new law, which he believes will encourage "mosques to spring up like mushrooms."
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