Islam Online has reported that a Belgian mosque linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas support has named a female Muslim professor to the post of imam, said to be the first such appointment in Belgium and Europe. However, the report also notes that the new female imam will only supervise women’s activities at the mosque and will not be in charge of Friday prayers. According to the report:
A mosque in southern Belgium has named a female Muslim professor to the post of imam, the first such a move in the northwestern European country. “Hawaria Fattah has been granted the rank of imam,” Abdel-Jalel Al-Hajaji, the curator of Al-Sahaba Mosque in the southern city of Verviers, told IslamOnline.net on Saturday, October 25. “It is the first move of its kind in Belgium and Europe.” Chosen along with two male imams, Fattah, a mother of three, will supervise the preaching activities for women at the mosque. “But she will not deliver the sermon of the Friday prayers or lead the prayers,” stressed Hajaji. “Her role will focus on supervising the preaching and guidance activities for women at the mosque.” Fattah’s selection was approved by the Belgian Justice Ministry, which is responsible for the country’s religious affairs. Born to an Algerian father and a Belgian mother, Fatah, 35, is a professor of social and Islamic studies. She has worked as a preacher for Muslim women at a mosque in Verviers. Pioneering Muslim leaders said Fattah’s appointment shows that Islam is treating men and women on equal footing. “Her selection stems from our conviction that men and women are equal in Islam,” said Hajaji. The Muslim leader said that the move will help Muslim women gain a foothold at mosques. “This pioneering move will help enable women gain a foothold in preaching activities, while abiding by religious teachings.” Fattah’s selection won plaudits from Belgian Muslims. “We welcome and praise this smart move,” Karim Chemlal, leader of the Muslim League of Belgium, told IOL. “It will show the bright image of our Islamic faith.”
In April, the NEFA Foundation released a report on the Muslim Brotherhood in Belgium which identified the complex housing the Al-Sahaba Mosque and the Hajaji family as part of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas support infrastructure in Belgium. The NEFA report also identified Karim Chemlal as a leader of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), the umbrella group comprising the global Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. The report was followed by a relative large amount of media attention on the mosque in Verviers which may have been at least part of the reason prompting this appointment.