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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Anti-Islam Conference: Right-Wing Populists to Gather in City of Immigrants

Europe’s right-wing populists want to build a united front to battle what they call the continent’s creeping Islamization at a conference set to take place in Cologne this weekend. Powerless to stop the event, local officials are anticipating the arrival of thousands of counterprotesters. Cologne’s Heumarkt, a cobblestone square in the city’s Old Town, is best known as the place where thousands and thousands of costumed revellers converge each Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. to ring in the new season of the most famous festival along the Rhine River, Carnival. This Saturday, though, Heumarkt will become the focal point for an altogether different and decidedly less cheerful event. Instead of the sound of relentlessly upbeat Carnival songs, the square will be filled with radical right-wing slogans and anti-Muslim baiting. Pro Cologne (Pro Köln), a group that has risen to political prominence in this city of 1 million with its vociferous campaign to stop the construction of a major mosque — and even landed seats on the City Council along the way — is to hold a conference aimed at halting what it describes as the creeping “Islamization” of Europe. It would be hard to find another German city where the debate over integration and the role of Islam has been as concrete and vocal as it has been here. And nowhere else has it been easier to observe the collateral damage that can occur when politicians attempt to address the fears many locals have about purported Islamization. Lenz Jacobsen reports.

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‘They’re provoking us,’ says Iranian writer after Verses play Earth Times

Potsdam, Germany – An Iranian writer in exile Monday described a Satanic Verses stage play and the anti-Islam short movie Fitna as “pure provocation” towards Muslims which played into the hands of fundamentalists. Speaking on Deutschlandradio Kultur, a national public radio channel, writer Bahman Nirumand described the two productions as “psychological warfare” under the mantle of “artistic freedom.” “I can assure you that the fundamentalists are extremely gratified by it,” he said. “They can use it to boost their position.” He compared the effect to a game of tennis, with one player exploiting the other’s unwise strokes. Nirumand appealed to Western intellectuals to cease this form of provocation and to differentiate Islam’s many aspects. “These allegedly artistic productions simply equate all Islam with violence,” he said. The first stage adaptation of The Satanic Verses, a controversial novel by Indian-born author Salman Rushdie, won applause from a German audience at its premiere, held under police guard on Sunday afternoon at Potsdam near Berlin. The adaptation in German digested Rushdie’s 700-page, 1988 book to a four-hour matinee at the Hans Otto Theatre in the city of Potsdam. The characters include a prophet named Mahound, a thinly disguised reference to Mohammed.

France’s Muslims becoming more religious

France’s Muslim minority, the largest in Europe, is becoming more observant, a new survey by the polling group IFOP said. Religiosity indicators such as following daily prayers, visiting mosques, and fasting Ramadan seemed to be increasing in Muslims partaking in the tenants. The rise appears to reflect a reaction to the discrimination felt by Muslims in France, as new mosques are being built around the country. An alternatively proposed reasoning is that it is easier to practice Islam in France, thanks to the building of many new mosques.

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View PDF of poll View PDF of poll (Courtesy of IFOP)