The islamic third way

The famous Italian historian, Franco Cardini, asks whether the time has come for Italy to examine Islam in a peaceful way, avoiding stereotypes and demagogic strategies. He admits, however, that looking at recent national events, there is not much hope. More precisely, he refers to the new Committee for Islam set up by the Italian Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni (Northern League). This Committee, in Cardini’s view, might be e troubling sign because it includes notorious Italian Islamophobes as well as people that are highly critical of Islam, while excluding UCOII, one of the most important and large Islamic associations in the country. This lack of balance has caused the resignation of the Committee’s president, Mario Scialoja, who is well known as a moderate Muslim leader. As Cardini points out, the integration of the more than 1.5 million of Muslims remains unresolved. Another issue which this historian highlights in this article as in urgent need of conversation and talk, witch might change the way that the Italian public and its politicians has viewed the Muslim Brotherhood, broadly labeled and considered a fundamentalist and terrorist organization, even though it has never been seriously investigated. Emblematic, in this respect, is the fate of Tariq Ramadan, one of the most intelligent and interesting representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. He is often considered to be a dangerous agitator and was even prevented from entering France. This is indicative, says Cardini, of our low level of understanding of Islam. He recommends a book, recently published in Italy by two famous Italian Islamologists, dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood in the contemporary world. What emerges from this study is a complex image of the group which, besides supporting certain guerrilla activities, is clearly widening and deepening its social and welfare commitments. The crucial question, then, is whether it will be able to play a leading role in setting up an autochthonous model of democracy in the Arab world, rather than the one favored in the West.