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After its president died of Covid-19, Moroccans and Syrians rally to head Spain's Muslims body

In Spain, religious leaders of Moroccan and Syrian origin have been rallying to replace the former president of the Islamic Commission of Spain, who died after testing positive for coronavirus.

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On Monday, the Islamic Commission of Spain (CIE), a representative organ of Islam and Muslims in the country, announced that its president Riya Tatri, a 72-year-old doctor of Syrian origin, died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

Tatru’s death has launched a race for the presidency of the organization, with Moroccans from the Federation of Islam religious state entities, chaired by Mounir Benjelloun, close to Al Adl wal Ihsane, and another camp, that of the pro-Tatari belonging to the Union of Islamic Communities of Spain (UCIDE) running for the position.

The «war», which erupted after Spain implemented reforms in the religious field in 2015, between the two camps is expected to see yet another chapter. The reforms have forced Benjelloun in the past to end his long-standing co-chairmanship of the organization, putting also an end to a tradition that had been carried since the creation of the body in 1992. Spain was, moreover, one of the first European countries to set up a body for Muslims settled on its territory.

«War» between Moroccans and Syrians under the watchful eye of Spain

«There is a declared race between Muslims from Madrid and Barcelona to succeed Tatari. The first group wants the next president to be a Moroccan, probably close to Al Adl wal Ihsane, while the others want him to be Syrian», a source close to the matter told Yabiladi.

Thus, «Youssef Fernandez, a Spaniard who is both the secretary general of the Muslim body and its spokesperson, is one of the members running for presidency. However, by virtue of his function as a real intermediary between the country's highest authorities and its various religious control services and the Islamic Commission of Spain, he could be excluded from the race», the same source added.

«Mounir Benjelloun's chances of succeeding Riya Tatari are not that high as his relations with the authorities in Spain are rather cold», it revealed.

In March 2017, in a letter to King Felipe VI, the Moroccan did not hesitate to question the validity of the CIE to represent almost two million Muslims living in this country. He had even advocated the creation of an Islamist party in Spain.

The appointment of a successor to the late Riya Tatari is expected to be announced in the coming days.

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