In recent years, suspicions have grown in Western countries regarding the purpose of foreign funding for the construction and maintenance of Islamic centers within their territories, especially given that most Western countries are secular, and their churches are separate from the state and self-funded.
One of these Islamic centers is the European Association for Supporting and Building Mosques, which is a real estate management company established in Germany in 1985. Its headquarters are located in the city of Cologne. It is affiliated with the Turkish Islamic group (Milli Gorus) and, at the same time, connected to the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood through its general representative, Ibrahim El-Zayat, one of the most important and prominent leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany and Europe.
The main mission of the association is to provide the financial resources needed for ‘helping Islamic communities in Europe to qualify/develop mosque buildings and Islamic educational institutions so that they can carry out their religious, cultural, social, and legal activities in suitable conditions, and fulfill their main mission, which is to spread Islam more widely in Europe.’ However, the association’s work is not limited to funding only but also includes building selection, inspection operations, planning, interior design, and construction, with an emphasis on highlighting the Islamic art and culture, especially in mosque architecture, to connect European Muslims to their religious and cultural identity.
According to its informational statement on its website, the association has managed to acquire more than 300 buildings in Germany and other European countries for use as mosques or cultural and educational centers, citing the Arab Center for Extremism Studies.
The headquarters team of the association consists of 20 specialized individuals in fields such as architectural engineering, real estate, business management, civil engineering, project management, and public relations. They manage a wide network of contractors and workers who work on dozens of construction and renovation projects for mosque buildings and cultural and educational centers in Germany and other European countries.
The association relies on contributions from its members, in addition to regular international donation campaigns, the most prominent of which is the annual ‘Infaq’ campaign. It also receives financial support from economic and financial institutions of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe and collaborates with local partner organizations as well.
In the Turkish context, according to media reports, the Justice and Development Party not only assists in building mosques and sending preachers to Europe but also plays a key role in representing the political Islamic thought, through its relationships, cooperation, and coordination with political parties and movements with Islamic references across the Middle East. It engages in conflicts with regional moderate forces, with European countries as their arena.
In general, the construction of mosques and Islamic religious centers in Europe has significantly increased within the context of regional competitions. The numbers in Spain have reached around 1000 mosques and religious centers, France has about 2450, and the UK has around 1700 mosques. However, while most of these mosques are small Islamic centers and prayer halls, their numbers often seem greater than the real needs of Muslims in European countries. These centers are not primarily used for the dissemination of Islamic thought but are often utilized as political tools in conflicts among their funders.