Vatican backs right of Muslims to build mosques in Italy

As long as mosques are used as places of worship, Italy’s Muslims should have the right to build more mosques, said Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, Vatican Cultural Council chief. “If (the mosque) becomes something different, civil society has a right to intervene. Here we are talking about a western society that distinguishes between religious and political spheres, however the mosque carries out a charitable function which is a special quality so that religion also has a social function,” said Ravasi. He added that a mosque ought not to turn into a social center, because this leads to a loss of its intended function.

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New York Times

Dallas News

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Earth Times

Police arrest two terrorism suspects

Milan police arrested two Moroccan-born men on charges of plotting attacks against Italian targets. These targets included a supermarket, police barracks, and Milan’s Piazza del Duomo. The two men were said to have no ties to international terrorist groups, but did admire the work of such groups as Al Qaeda. Wiretaps of the two men uncovered the intent to use “bombs” made of gunpowder from firecrackers. Planning for the attacks is said to have been in the preliminary stages.

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AKI

Europe News

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New York Times

Reuters

Arrests during nationwide anti-terror raids

Spanish police arrested 13 men accused of harboring Islamic extremists, including several suspected of having connections to the 2004 Madrid bombings, and helping them flee Spain. The arrests were made in areas near Barcelona, Madrid, and Algeciras. The recent arrests stemmed from an operation three years ago, in 2005, in which Spanish police broke up a cell that allegedly recruited people for suicide attacks against US-led forces in Iraq. At least eight of the detained are of Moroccan origin; details about the others have not been provided

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Bosnia: Gay festival closes after clashes with hardline Muslims

Bosnia’s first gay pride festival has been forced underground after 10 people were injured when protestors attacked visitors on the festival’s opening night. Dozens of people chanting “kill the gays” punched, kicked, and threw stones at people leaving the event. Islamic leaders were angry that the festival of pride, which includes art, films, and workshops about sexual minorities, is being held during the Muslim month of Ramadan. Lead organizers of the event said that they are not canceling the festival, but changing the format from public to private, hoping that this will deter some of the harassment and violence.

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AKI

The Irish Times

Agence-France Presse

Agence-France Presse

“Immigrant massacre” in Caserta stirs concern

Italy is dealing with a rise in immigrant anger this week after protests erupted against the violent attacks directed at African immigrants. At Caserta, located in the north of Naples, riots sparked after the Naples mafia was linked to the gang-related killing of six Africans – three Ghanians, two Liberians, and a Togolese. In Milan, thousands took to the streets to condemn the beating to death of a young man from Burkina Faso, who was caught stealing biscuits from a local bar. While the events are unrelated, they show an increasing divide between African descended Italian citizens and migrants, and other Italians, with underlying tensions of skin color and racist concerns. The cabinet of Silvio Berlusconi approved 500 troops to monitor Caserta, and remain in the area for thee months to safeguard the area.

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AKI

Minister proposes a registry for imams and mosques

Italian European Affairs Minister Andrea Ronchi has proposed a registry for imams in Italy, in order to control the building of mosques, and a referendum to urge for more integration of places of worship according to the social and urban contexts where they are based. Ronchi made the proposals suggesting that the initiatives would improve religious dialogue. He also stated that he would like to restart dialogue between Muslims and institutions including the Islamic Council or Consulta per l’Islam. However, Ronchi said that he did not want the Union of Islamic Communities of Italy to take part in the initiative, even though it is the country’s largest Muslim group – calling them “the real exponents of non-dialogue” concerning the group’s denial of the existence of Israel.

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AKI

Reuters

Pakistani girl who jumped from balcony in arranged marriage refusal, ‘wants Italian citizenship’

A 15-year old Pakitani girl jumped from a balcony in the northern Italian town of Alessandria. The act was reportedly connected to her refusal of an arranged marriage with her cousin, a 16-year old Pakistani boy. “My parents had already been in touch with his and told me I would be marrying him. I have nothing against him but I do not love him,” the girl said. The girl’s jump was an apparent act of desperation, to escape her parents’ decision. The girl also said that she no longer wants to be Pakistani, but wants to become an Italian citizen. An investigation is being opened into the girl’s desperate attempt.

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AKI

AKI

Democratic Party out of touch, says former MP

Former MP Khaled Fouad Allam is expressing his dissatisfaction with Italy’s recent parliamentary elections, citing the loss of representation by Italy’s centre-left Democratic party due to a philosophical breakdown within the party. Allam accused the centre-left of “eulogizing (US Democratic presidential hopeful) Barack Obama and calling his candidacy epoch-making, while failing to field a single new Italian citizen as a candidate on its lists.” Commenting on Berlusconi’s win and the gains of the Northern League, Allam expressed concern that little progress would be made from this election, except that: “Italy will maintain and seek to strengthen its relations with the Arab world – its dependence on it for oil and gas make any change of direction inadvisable.” Allam is a member of Consulta Islamica, a government appointed body to represent various Muslim communities in Italy.http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Politics/?id=1.0.2086449437

Far-right candidate of Moroccan origin says there are too many mosques

Zakaria Najib, the first Moroccan-born member of the far-right Northern League party has complained that there are too many mosques in Italy. Najib first came to Italy when he was 20 years old, and after living in the country for 30 years, now lives in the province of Padua. He is planning to run in Italy’s general elections in April as a candidate for the Northern Leauge, an anti-immigrant party. Najib told AKI that “In a nearby city council, 30,000 euros were given to restructure a mosque… Now they want to give another 800,000 euros to construct another bigger mosque a few kilometers away. It is time to say enough. I am not against mosques but here we really have too many.” Najib admitted that he was no longer a practicing Muslim and considered himself more culturally linked to Islam.