Bologna’s mayor backtracks on mosque; project ‘badly handled,’ says scholar

A controversial project to build a mosque in Bologna has been scrapped, due to lack of agreement from local Muslims concerning two key conditions. The city’s Islamic Cultural Centre failed to reply to a letter laying town two essential conditions for the mosque to go ahead; the city’s councillor, Virginio Merola says this indicated a disagreement with the city council over the project. The city council’s letter asked for (1) a foundation to be set up to ensure transparency over funding for the planned mosque, and (2) that Bologna’s Muslim community distance itself from Italy’s largest Muslim group – the Union of Islamic Communities of Italy (UCOII). While plans for the mosque construction have now fallen through, Bologna’s Islamic Cultural Centre says it remains committed to building the mosque, despite opposition. A former coordinator for the mosques in the Emilia Romagna region, Hasan Giulio Soravia , criticized leaders for failing to break away from the UCOII, the largest Muslim group in Italy. The UCOII has many members that belong to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement, and as such, Muslim projects in Italy have been encouraged to sever ties with the association. However, Soravia remains hopeful, that Muslims in Italy will e able to forge their own Islam that distances itself from the logic of Arab states.