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Ministers want more controls on foreign funding of foundations

THE NETHERLANDS. The cabinet wants to bring in new rules about foreign finance for foundations, following concerns about the source of some cash sent to mosques and other Islamic institutions.

The new rules could set strict criteria for donations from abroad and may also require institutions to be more transparent about where their funding comes from, justice minister Ard van der Steur and social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher said in a briefing to parliament.

The draft legislation may include extra powers for the tax office and government ministries to exchange information about foreign donations. The ministers also want agreements made with Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE about transparency and funding.

‘Every religious community has the freedom to attract money from within and outside the Netherlands for a mosque, church or temple,’ the ministers said. ‘But that brings with it the risk of foreign influence or activities which contract the Netherlands’ key values and freedom.’

Foreign funding was recently an issue in Rotterdam when a Qatari Islamic organisation bought a school building and there was nothing legally which could be done about it, the ministers said. The Sheikh Eid Charitable Association did eventually agree to sell the building on.

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