Illegal immigrants using churches to stage sit-ins in Belgium are turning the houses of worship into virtual mosques, says Paul Belien in the online Brussels Journal.
Belgian Roman Catholic bishops have opened up 20 churches and chapels to illegal immigrants who mostly are Muslims.
Although Belgian law requires the illegals to be expelled, the bishops are joining in the effort to pressure authorities into granting amnesty.
Some of the illegals have displayed banners heralding the name of Allah, including one that hung in the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succor in Brussels.
Belien comments: "The Belgian bishops are so ignorant that they do not see what is going on: Their churches are being turned into mosques before their very eyes."
The movement gained momentum in late March when 119 asylum seekers were given residence papers after a hunger strike.
But Sunday, Belgium`s Interior Minister Patrick Dewael refused to give in to the demands despite an escalation of protest, insisting the majority of illegals should not expect to gain residence.
"Most of them simply don`t come into consideration for asylum or regularization," he told the television show "De Zevende Dag." "Often, they have not lodged an application, initiated no procedure or were given a negative assessment years ago."
Catholic bishop Luc Van Looy of Ghent said the church leaders don`t want the law to change "but want it applied more efficiently and more quickly so that people without (official) papers don`t have to live for years in uncertainty."
Dewael has called the many hunger strikes blackmail.
Belien says that while "Western Europe is turning Muslim, its Christian churches are committing suicide."
"A Muslim would never allow his mosque to be turned into a dormitory for non-believers."
Some church leaders, such as Fr. Christian Wynants of Church of St. Giles in Brussels, have insisted they had no knowledge beforehand that the illegals intended to occupy their buildings.
The National Catholic Reporter said last month a group of about 50 mostly illegal African migrants occupied the Church of St Giles.
"At the very least, it is a lack of manners," Wynants said.
Police eventually removed them from the church, according to the Catholic paper.
Ali Bouchrouk, an Algerian who has a residency permit but whose wife does not, told the National Catholic Reporter the strategy is simple.
"We are in a Catholic country, thus we occupy churches. If we were in Algeria, we would occupy mosques."
Eric de Beukelkaer, spokesman of the Belgian bishops` conference, said church leaders were "uneasy" about the "systematic nature" of the occupations and disapproved of occupations conducted without the prior agreement of the parish priest, according to the Catholic paper.
Elsewhere in Europe, Catholic and Protestant churches are at the forefront of protests against a crackdown on illegal immigration.
The church leaders say their activities are not coordinated but simply a response to Jesus Christ`s command to care for strangers.
"There are pages of the Bible that we can`t just tear out," said Bishop Georges Pontier of La Rochelle, France, according to Reuters.
Austen Ivereigh, spokesman for London Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O`Connor, said it`s "an essential part of Catholic social teaching."
Churches also have stood behind illegal immigrants in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Ireland.