A blow - Slovak Muslims critical of new church law

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) " Slovakia's Muslim community has condemned a new bill tightening conditions for the official registration of churches.

Approved by Parliament on Wednesday, it increases the number of members needed for a religion to become official, and eligible for state subsidies, from 20,000 to 50,000. There are about 5,000 Muslims in Slovakia, and the community already considered the original number restrictive.

The bill was drafted by the ultra-nationalist Slovak National Party, a member of the ruling coalition, which made no secret of targeting Muslims.

The move is another sign of anti-Islam sentiment in the Roman Catholic stronghold after Prime Minister Robert Fico previously declared that Slovakia is not a suitable place for Muslims to live.

In a statement sent to The Associated Press on Friday, the Islamic Foundation says the law, which needs presidential approval, is "a serious blow for religious freedom in Slovakia."

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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