The Dutch Parliament formulated a need for an overview of the size and scope of foreign financial support to Islamic institutions in the Netherlands. The Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) has tackled this through a three-staged approach, commencing with an assessment of the feasibility of a comprehensive estimate of foreign funding to Islamic institutions.
RAND Europe was tasked to provide an assessment of the feasibility of conducting a full analysis of the size, scope and potential influence of foreign funding to Islamic institutions in the Netherlands.
In addition to a review of the literature and documentation available on the topic of this study, and a set of scoping interviews with key informants, we have taken a quasi-experimental approach to testing the availability and relevance of publicly available information on funding of Islamic institutions in the Netherlands.
We systematically and rigorously appraised the available information and information attributes for a sample of institutions in the Netherlands (39 of a purported 450).
- We conclude that there is relatively little financial transparency among Islamic institutions in the Netherlands. For historical reasons, foreign donations to fund Islamic institutions’ large (construction) projects appear practically inevitable, but not necessarily problematic.
- The systematic review of data collected from public sector and confidential sources confirmed links to foreign funding of Islamic institutions in the Netherlands that had previously been identified by intelligence reports and in the media.
- The collected data do not allow us to create a comprehensive and reliable overview of foreign funding to these institutions in the Netherlands.
- Findings for the sample of 39 Islamic institutions confirmed presence of board members from potential source countries. However, it is not possible to derive any firm conclusions about the possible conditions under which funding is provided.
- We expect it will be legally and practically complicated, and very resource-intensive, to carry out a comprehensive assessment of all ca. 450 mosques in the Netherlands.
- We suggest that in order to improve financial transparency of Islamic organisations, institutions or their umbrella organisations are encouraged to self-report on funding they have received from abroad and how these funds were used (for example in annual reports, or to a regulator).