Islam: Tomorrow a New Mosque Opens in Siena

October 24, 2013


A new mosque will open in the province of Siena. Tomorrow, Friday October 25 at 11 am, the new headquarters of the Islamic cultural center of Colle di Val d’ Elsa will open its doors to all. The opening will be welcomed by the President of the Community of Muslims and the province of Siena, Feras Jebareen, Imam of the Islamic community of Florence and the President of Ucoii (Union of Islamic community of Italy), Izzeddin Elzir and the mayor of Colle di Val d’Elsa, Paul Brogden. Civil and religious authorities at the local, provincial and regional levels were invited to the opening day of the new headquarters.

The official opening of the new headquarters of the Islamic cultural center – the construction of which has sparked debates over the past ten years and in particular since its construction in 2006 – will also be the occasion to present the eight members of the Scientific Committee, appointed by the community and comprised of an equal number of Muslims and the local authority members.

The Committee will be tasked to propose, manage and coordinate the various initiatives housed within the center with a focus on inter-culturalism and reciprocal knowledge, in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding signed in December 2004 between the Association of Muslim community, Siena and its province and the town of Colle di Val d’ Elsa.



Florence: Jews, Christians and Muslims Rooted in Solidarity

On Wednesday, October 2 at 6PM in the Hall of Luca Giordano di Palazzo Medici Riccardi there will be a symposium with Sara Cividalli , Mohamed Bamoshmoosh, Piero Giunti, Tonio Dell’Olio and Mercedes Frias.


On Wednesday, October 2 in Florence , at 6PM, in the Hall of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi (Via Cavour 1 ) there will be held a dialogue between Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives; representatives will discuss the theme “Roots of solidarity between local participation and global citizenship.” Also participating is the President of the Provincial Council Piero Giunti, and at 6:30 pm the program will begin with discussion between Mohamed Bamoshmoosh (Islamic Community), Sara Cividalli  (President of the Jewish Community); and Tonio Dell’Olio.

“This meeting” said the coordinator Marco Bontempi “is the third in a series that discusses Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives, seminars all focus on religious and secular roots of solidarity.”


The first meeting was held on 29 May, hosted by the Jewish Community, and the speakers were Professor Ugo De Siervo (former President of the Constitutional Court), who spoke on the theme “The constitutional roots of solidarity,” and Rav Joseph Levi (chief Rabbi of Florence) on “the Jewish roots of solidarity.”


The second meeting was held on the 17 June where Prof. Sergio Givone (University of Florence) spoke on “The cultural roots of solidarity” and Dr. Mohamed Bamoshmoosh (Islamic Community of Florence) also spoke on the same topic.

“Muslims are in the Streets like it’s their home:” In Borgo Allegri, citizens are exhausted

The residents of Borgo Allegri in Florence are exhausted, as they protest against the deterioration of their neighborhood in an area surrounding the city’s Islamic Cultural Center. The place of prayer has existed since 2007 and is located in the back of an old warehouse, not very spacious and extremely close to surrounding homes. The Muslim community, over the years, has increased in number (a community that is 30,000 strong in Florence) and this increase is paralleled by a worsening situation in the area: fights, late night noise and loitering on the sidewalk and in front of the place of prayer and other illegal activities.

The most difficult time was during Ramadan (a month of prayer, during which the Islamic center was stormed) and every Friday during the rest of the year: during these times residents stay in, and don’t have company over to their homes, staying locked in their homes. “We have signatures and we have asked for help from over 100 organizations and no one will help” explained Laura Battistoni, a resident of the area, who yesterday sent an email to Mayor Matteo Renzi, explaining the difficulties in the area around the Islamic Center.

“The crux of the matter is that there is no more law in this space: everyone does what they want. The faithful who come to the Islamic Center pray in terrible conditions, stretching out on rugs in the middle of the street, eating on the sidewalks. They pray at 4 am, often using a megaphone, making it impossible for anyone to sleep.”

The problem is not only from the residents in the area. “We are the cradle of the renaissance” said one resident “but we have a bad image abroad. There are tourists who have complained, and discourage others from renting a home in the area.” The faithful are also sometimes the most educated of the Italians, most of them are good people, but tourists do not expect this commotion on the street. Women and the elderly are afraid. I think being able to sleep at night and come and go freely from home, at any time , is within the rights of a citizen,” says the resident.

“The Muslims also have a right to pray, but it is only right to that they have a safe and dignified place to do so.” In this regard, that the Imam of Florence Elzir Izzedin asks for a mosque in the city. This has raised many issues like whether to allow it and where to put it. A number of places have been identified including southern Florence in viale Nenni.


The Converts to Islam

“What I like about Islam? Certainly the concept of individual responsibility, the lack of an intermediary between the believer and God because, in Islam, there is no confession and the imam is not a priest” says Alessandro Paolantoni, a 45 year old Roman who converted to Islam in 2001. “I testify that there is no god but God and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God.” The ritual is simple: one time Muslim converts verify the sincerity of their intention, to pronounce the testimony of faith before a man of Muslim faith and two witnesses. And so they are converted: a minority, but growing; in recent years almost 70 thousand people have converted in our country.

The Italian convert has been brought under the spotlight by the case of the 24-year old Genovese, Giuliano Delnevo Ibrahim, who was killed in Syria while fighting alongside the rebels. Delnevo had converted to Islam in 2008. His journey of faith, is , less and less rare in our country. “According to our estimates,” converts of Italian descent “exceeds 70 thousand” explained Izzedin Elzir, imam in Florence and president UCOII (the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, bringing together over 150 organizations)  conversions to Islam are in fact becoming more frequent, especially in the recent times of economic and moral crisis. “For Elzir, the new Muslims” can be a valuable bridge for dialogue between faith and country “in short, a sort of ambassador of Islam.”

French ministers refuse to attend conference with Islamic scholar who teaches at Oxford University

Tariq Ramadan is an Islamic scholar who teaches at Oxford University and a former member of a working group on extremism set up by Tony Blair. Time magazine once described him as the “leading thinker” among Europe’s second and third-generation Muslim immigrants. Yet two French ministers have suddenly announced that they will not attend a conference in Florence tomorrow on the future of the European Union because of the presence of the scholar, Tariq Ramadan. He is due to be a panellist at the conference, entitled The State of the Union, speaking about “migration, identity and integration”. The French Interior Minister Manuel Valls and Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the Women’s Rights Minister who is also a government spokeswoman, informed organisers that they were pulling out, saying they had “not been informed” of Professor Ramadan’s attendance. The philosopher is a controversial figure who has been accused of advocating violence and for some years was banned from entering France.

Mosque in a High Security Court for Mafia Killings? Ok Imam

April 21, 2013

Florence – A Mosque in a high security court created for terrorism trials, which was used for the specific trials of the Monster of Florence, Pietro Pacciani who along with 3 other killed almost 16 people and Giovanni Brusca who was responsible for killing a famed judge in 1993 for the judge’s harsh stance on the mafia during the clean hands movement. The Islamic movement in Florence is prepared to acquire the property, according to Imam Izzedin Elzir. This is the same complex that heard from the famous defendants Pacciani and Brusca.

A room for islam in greve (village in the province of Florence): muslims in the house of the people

The president of the Tuscany Region, Enrico Rossi, participated in a public debate on immigration and integration in the Greve area. The president recognized the crucial role played by local institutions like the House of the People in fostering integration. The House of the People, in fact, has offered one of its rooms for Muslims’ use. The president linked his plan to tackle immigration effectively with his commitment to uphold the values of equality and freedom. He also emphasized that with a population of 150.000 Muslims, Tuscany must grant them the right to worship. He is certain that through dialogue it is possible to build a democratic and tolerant society based on human dignity. He concluded by inviting the Italian parliament to debate and pass a law on a right to citizenship that recognizes political rights for immigrants’ children who were born in our country.

French sociologist questions the current halal polemic in France

In this opinion piece in Libération, Florence Blackler, sociologist at the Institute for Research and Studies on the Arab and Muslim World (Institut de recherché sur le monde arabe et musulman), argues that the recent debate about halal meat in the Quick restaurants in France is overstated. Blackler claims that in the last ten years halal meats is widely available, and it is the politicization of Islam which has created the news story.

French Sociologist explains the intolerance toward halal foods in France; other study suggests its prevalence among French meat products

In this article in Le Figaro, CNRS sociologist Florence Blackler describes the rise of importance of halal meats in France. While until the 1970s Muslims in France often slaughtered their own meats or purchased kosher meat, young practitioners have called for an increasing number of halal products. A second article from Le Figaro points to at study undertaken by the l’Œuvre d’assistance aux bêtes d’abattoir (OABA) that many French may not be aware of the abattoir, but that their meat products may in fact be halal.

Police carry out anti-terror raids across country

Twenty-six foreigners suspected of links to international terrorism and aiding illegal immigration, are being investigated by Italian police, after raids carried out in several Italian cities.

The raids were carried out in the northern cities of Vicenza, Venice, Padova, Brescia, Como, Cuneo, Trento, and Florence. Anti-terrorism and criminal investigators began probing fundamentalists attending the Via Dei Mille mosque in the northern Veneto region – led by an imam who is being investigated for terror links. Most of the 26 foreigners are stated to be of Algerian descent, and had already been involved in falsifying documents relating to jihadi groups, according to investigators.