President vetoes restrictive church law targeting Muslims

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Slovakia's President Andrej Kiska has vetoed legislation that would have tightened conditions for the official registration of churches.

Approved by Parliament on Nov 30, the legislation intended to increase the number of members needed for a religion to become official — and eligible for state subsidies — from 20,000 to 50,000.

The bill was drafted by the ultra-nationalist Slovak National Party, which is a member of the governing coalition. It has made no secret of its intent to target Muslims.

There are about 5,000 Muslims in Slovakia, and the community already considered the original number restrictive.

The move is another sign of anti-Islamic sentiment in Catholic-dominated Slovakia.

Kiska said in a statement on Tuesday the law interferes too much with fundamental rights and freedoms.

Parliament can override Kiska's veto.