Slovakia didn’t recently pass law to ban Islam from gaining official status as a religion

By: Rajini KG
May 14 2024

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Slovakia didn’t recently pass law to ban Islam from gaining official status as a religion

Screenshot of the viral post circulating on social media. (Source: X/Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Misleading

Any religion can get official status in Slovakia if it gets a minimum of 50,000 affidavits from citizens. Slovakia has not banned any religion.

Claim ID 3d972711

What is the claim?

Social media users have shared posts claiming that in the "latest signs of growing anti-Muslim sentiments in Europe," Slovakia has passed a law to "ban Islam" from being registered as an official religion in the country. Users shared the claim with an image of Prime Minister Robert Fico and an image of the Quran. One such post has received over 5,000 likes, and an archive can be found here.

Screenshot of the viral post circulating on social media. (Source: X/Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, the claim is misleading.

The amendment came into effect in 2017 under the “Freedom of religious belief and the status of churches and religious societies” Act, which mentions that religious groups required a minimum of 50,000 petitions from Slovak citizens. Any religious society that meets this requirement gets official religious status in the country.

Here are the facts

We did not find any recent news reports of such a law passed by the Slovak government in 2024. However, our search led us to similar posts from 2016 speculating that Islam may be banned, as the country proposed a new law called the Freedom of Religious Acts.

According to a report in Reuters, an Amendment Bill called "Act No. 308/1991 - Freedom of Religious Faith and on the Position of Churches and Religious Societies" was introduced by the Slovak National Party (SNS) in the parliament and was passed on November 30, 2016.

According to the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, the bill introduced some conditions for registering religious groups and churches under Act No. 308/1991 in Slovakia.

The bill lays down certain conditions for people of a particular religion to be eligible for public subsidies, to be recognized as an official religious group, and to operate their own schools, stating that “a religion must now have at least 50,000 adherents, up from the previous threshold of 20,000.” This means there must be at least 50,000 citizens who are of legal age and have a permanent address in the country who follow that religion. There are other criteria: religious societies must submit basic documents of the group or church, details of society members, and the mission and vision of the group for a religion to be registered.

The conditions introduced in the new law in 2016. (Source: Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic/Translated/Screenshot/Markup by Logically Facts)

Earlier, the number of required adherents in the bill was 20,000, and this amendment increased the minimum number to 50,000. 

The former President of Slovakia, Andrej Kiska, had criticized the changes to Act No. 308/1991 on December 20, 2016, but the bill was supported by 101 MPs and came into effect on March 1, 2017. 

Changes were made to three points in the older version of the law under the section “REGISTRATION OF CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS SOCIETIES,” according to the website Slov-Lex, the legislative portal of the Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic. 

The bill does not explicitly mention Islam, but several news reports like Reuters that interpreted the law stated that effectively this poses an obstacle for Islam to attain the status of an official religion in Slovakia, as the number of Muslims in the country was lower than 50,000. The 2021 census report revealed 18 registered and three unregistered (Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism) religions in Slovakia, the European Commission stated. According to a report by the Office of International Religious Freedom of the United States Department of State that cited data from the 2011 census, there were about 1,200 Muslims in Slovakia. The 2021 census data uploaded on the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic website showed around 3,900 Muslims in Slovakia.

The verdict

A Slovak law that effectively blocked Islam from being recognized as an official religion in the country was passed in 2017, and is not a recent development. The law does not explicitly mention Islam but lays down conditions for a religion to be recognized as official. Therefore, we have marked this claim as misleading.

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