La Razon – 31 March 2012
Police forces explained to La Razon that Salafism is implemented in Catalonia. According to police source, Imams of this branch of Islam lead three mosques in Barcelona and Terrassa, whose leader Abdeslam Laarusi will surely be charged with inciting violence against women.1 In Tarragona Salafi Imams alone control five mosques. Islamic terrorism in Catalonia seems controlled, but it is a latent danger. The numbers show it. According to La Razon, Catalonia has more than 400,000 Muslims and 20% of them follow the most radical precepts.
The leader of the Cultural Association Al-Hilal of Salt, Rachid Menda,2 is considered one of the leaders of Salafism in Spain. All these data make Catalonia’s largest stronghold of Salafism in Europe.
Another significant fact is that one of the masterminds of the bombing of the Twin Towers and one of his executors, Mohamed Atta, spent time in Tarragona.
The Salafist imam of the mosque of Reus, Tabdelhamid Aim The Hyat,3 was denounced by moderate Muslims, who testified that he coerced and made them pay a “revolutionary tax” in the style of ETA.
He is not the only radical Salafist imam controlled by security forces. The more mediatic is Houzl Abdelwahab,4 Imam from the mosque of Lerida. He is accused by the police of having promoted a kind of “religious police” who controls the “good behavior” of every Muslim. Houzl frequently send messages in their sermons of hate for Spain and the West. He is accused by the police of physical abuse and polygamy.5
Mohamed Mrabet Fahsi is the imam of the mosque in Vilanova (Barcelona) and spent seven years in prison. He was arrested in “Operation Jackal,” which dismantled a cell linked to terrorist attacks. The National Court accused him of funding jihadist networks and recruit young suicide individuals.
- In the lawsuit, submitted to the chief judge of Terrassa, the prosecutor of Hate Crimes and Discrimination in Catalonia, Miguel Angel Aguilar, accused the imam of inciting to violence against women in his sermons in the mosque of Terrassa. After making the necessary investigations and analyze the recordings of sermons, the Office has considered that Abdeslam L. “I would be taking advantage of its status as a religious leader within the Muslim community in Terrassa to utter clearly discriminatory posts that make vulnerable the principle of equality and the right to physical and moral integrity of women,” describes the complaint.
- Rachid Menda, Imam of Salt is aggregated to Salafism, in Spain, which preaches non-integration of Muslims in the “corrupt” Western society and allies also in the spread of the radical stream of Islam namely through the online dissemination.
Rachid Menda is has not yet attained age 30 and he is the Imam of Salt, which has 30,000 inhabitants where about 5,000 are immigrants of Muslim origin, most of them Moroccans.
In his radical discourse, Menda often leads to ask for the “Mujahideen” fighting in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq to the troops in Europe and America.
- The Imam with more followers of Reus, Tabdelhamid Aim The Hyat, aligned with the current Salafi, has threatened to remove the Muslim population into the streets, “in the province of Tarragona” if the Government fails to rectify and remove fines upon North Africans immigrants who had incorrectly used a subside designed to promote their integration in Spain.The Hyat has appeared in various media as one of the more radical Imams working in Spain. Of Dutch origin, he frequents Salafi conferences that proliferate every year in Spain.
- Salafist Imam of the mosque of the Lerida Street Nord, Abdelwahab Houzi, known for its radicalism, has managed to bring together more than 3,500 Muslims to close the Ramadan. Speaking in Arabic, the imam of Lerida, which maintains frequent conflicts with local authorities, has managed to use the end of Ramadan to become a reference of Salafism in Spain, a current reactionary reformist shared by terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Ana Ortiz, an analyst at Strategic Studies Group, described the presence of this fundamentalist stream in Spain:
“The common denominator of those who are supposedly involved in jihadist terrorism in our country responds to the profile of male, between 26 and 40 years, legal immigrants of North African origin. They are located in Madrid, Barcelona and Levante.
It should be clear that the vast majority of Moroccan immigrants, both in Catalonia and the rest of Spain, practice a more tolerant and open Islam than the Salafist groups.
The work of the new Imams that are settling in the area is to try to radicalize these groups to be locked in their community and their religion, and demonize any form of integration in society.
The police estimated that only in Catalonia there are between 12 and 15 Salafist mosques, considered very active.
The security forces claim that the modus operandi of these new Salafist Imams is to discredit the local imam.
- Lérida’s imam Abdelwahab Houzi is promoting the deployment of “religious police” in various municipalities, including Olot, similar to the one he created in the city under his fanatic preachings. He uses that police to monitor and, where appropriate, punish, even physically, those Muslims who do not meet his fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law.
Mr Houzi has also defended polygamy and has made it clear he wants to take advantage of independentist parties to make Islamism grow in Catalonia.