The mayor of Pilar de la Horadada, José María Pérez, has suspended applications for the building of religious centres in the municipality, a decision that is said to have angered the local imam of the Islamic community, Jamal Loudy, who has been seeking permission to build a mosque for his 4,000 members for very nearly ten years.
José María said that the suspension has been implemented “so that the municipality can seek a global solution in which the Muslim community and the rest of the townsfolk are able to live together.”
He said that he has held several meetings “with the representatives of the Muslim community in order to seek and to agree a solution among all,” the imam said that he had not been informed of the mayor’s decision.
He said that he now anticipates that his followers will mobilise to achieve a solution to the situation for which they have been working for many years, although he did not expand on quite what form the mobilisation would take. He added that he also doubted the legality of the suspension from an administrative point of view.
There are currently 4,000 Muslims who are resident in Pilar de la Horadada, 20% of the municipality’s population. They originate from Morocco, Algeria, Spain and Senegal and they have been attempting to build their own centre of worship in the town for almost a decade.
However, Muslim leaders say that the Pilar government has been “dodging” the constitutional rights of the Muslim community to have its own place of worship since 2011 when the PP mayor, Fidel Ros, suddenly changed the General Plan, withdrawing investment of 160,000 euros in the centre.
In recent years, between 2015 and 2019, the PSOE mayor Ignacio Ramos created a social forum in which he tried to address the problem by proposing a rented location on a local industrial estate.
The councillor of Vecinos del Pilar, Francisco Albaladejo, a member of the former left-wing government team and the forum, and now a councillor in opposition, who worked to reach a solution for four years as a member of the municipal government, believes it is evident that the mayor’s intention is to thwart any possibility of the Muslim community in having this religious space “Despite the fact that in the electoral campaign they were promised that the PP would solve the problem.” However, the government responded by saying that this is nonsense.
However the local newspaper Diario Informacion reports that the decision translates into a municipal ban ‘sine die’ of accepting the construction of any mosque for the Muslim community, suggesting that the legal restraints would no doubt have been lifted if the proposed religious space were not a mosque.