Local NGOs, including CVEK, continued to support the removal of the 20,000‑member requirement for registration of religious groups, saying the qualitative requirements defined in the law were sufficient to prevent registering groups whose activities were unconstitutional or contradicted human rights principles. The government took no actions to amend the law. Muslim community leaders reported that prisons and detention facilities frequently prevented their spiritual representatives from gaining access to their adherents.
The Ministry of Culture solicited a new expert opinion to re‑evaluate the registration application of the Christian Fellowship, which the ministry had rejected in 2007. The ministry’s original expert had concluded the group promoted hatred toward other religious groups and was therefore ineligible for registration. The Christian Fellowship disagreed with the ministry’s expert and submitted its own expert opinion. The ministry approached a third, independent expert to attempt to resolve the disagreement and convened a hearing of experts in October. The registration application remained pending.
While the law does not prevent unregistered groups from establishing prayer rooms and religious sites, members of some religious communities reported the lack of official registration made obtaining the necessary construction permits more difficult. The Muslim community is not registered, and has not been able to employ formally an imam because only registered religious groups are allowed to employ spiritual leaders.
In the context of the migration crisis in Europe, government officials repeatedly said that while the government opposed mandatory EU refugee quotas, it would accept 200 Christian refugees from Syria. NGOs and international observers criticized the government’s plan as discriminatory. In August the Ministry of Interior explained its preference for Christian refugees by stating that Christians would integrate more easily into society than Muslims because no officially recognized mosques existed in the country.
In September, while discussing EU negotiations over the adoption of mandatory refugee quotas, Prime Minister Robert Fico stated that while the country would initially be required to accept 2,000 refugees, it would be forced to take more refugees in future years. “And one day,” he said, “we will have here 40,000 to 50,000 Muslims, who will have their own church, will be present in the army, the police, and they will operate as an official church – do we really want this here?” Fico also said Da’esh (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) was recruiting among the refugees. NGOs denounced the prime minister’s rhetoric as fear mongering.
Some government officials portrayed Muslims, particularly migrants, as potential threats to national security, culture, and society. Prime Minister Fico said in a public radio broadcast in January that because Christian churches were dominant in the country, “we would not be able to easily tolerate 300,000 to 400,000 Muslims coming here, starting to build mosques and starting to change the character of this state.” In response to the November terrorist attacks in Paris, Prime Minister Fico told media that the government was monitoring every single Muslim on the national territory.
The leader of the Slovak National Party, Andrej Danko, proposed in January increasing the number of signatures needed to register a religious group from 20,000 to 50,000. Danko said the measures were intended to prevent the Muslim community from registering Islam. He also proposed introducing a law that would ban the construction of Islamic religious buildings.
Former interior minister, parliamentarian, and New Majority (NOVA) political party leader Daniel Lipsic said in January that as far as he was aware, only Muslims, not Christians or Jews, committed violent crimes or terrorist acts in Europe.
The Ministry of Culture administered a cultural grant program allocating money for the upkeep of cultural and religious monuments. A large portion of the government subsidy to registered religious groups was used to pay clergy and was allocated to groups based on the number of their clergy.
The 18 registered religious groups received approximately 38 million euros ($41.3 million) in annual state subsidies. The government continued discussions with stakeholders about changes in the funding of religious groups and convened two sessions of an expert commission to address this and other issues. During the April session, the Ministry of Culture continued to discuss possible new models of government funding for registered religious groups with stakeholders and tasked religious groups with submitting their evaluations of the proposed models by November. These models included allowing individuals to allocate a certain percentage of their taxes to a particular registered religious group or providing government contributions to registered religious groups based on the number of adherents rather than the number of clergy, as is currently the case. Some religious groups criticized the tax allocation model, stating they would have to start competing with other civil society organizations, which already benefit from a percentage of taxes assigned to them by taxpayers.
The Nation’s Memory Institute, a public institution established by the government, provided access to previously undisclosed records of the regimes ruling the country from 1939 to 1989. Jewish community leaders continued to criticize the institute for focusing on the persecution of prominent figures of the World War II‑era fascist state by the subsequent communist regime and playing down these individuals’ role in supporting anti‑Semitic policies.
In September Prime Minister Fico commemorated Holocaust victims and emphasized the importance of future generations continuing to learn about their suffering. The commemoration recognized the 74th anniversary of the World War II government issuing the “Jewish Code,” which stripped Jews of their civil rights. The Code was developed according to Nazi legislation on Jews and was one of the toughest anti‑Jewish legal measures in Europe. The deportation of Jews to death camps followed a year later.