Conference in Vienna: Immigration, integration, islam

Approximately five hundred people attended a recent conference in the Viennese Burgtheater organized by the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) on the subject of immigration and integration, which brought together four prominent speakers: former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato; Yale professor Seyla Benhabib; Armin Laschet, Integration Minister for the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia; and Roger Köppel, editor-in-chief of the Swiss weekly magazine, Die Weltwoche.

Amato criticised the idea restricting immigration to highly-qualified candidates, and stated that Islam had much less to do with the current problems, than the exploitation of immigrants who in general do not possess good enough language capabilities or education. Benhabib highlighted the conflict between worldwide migration and the nation-state, while stating that European politicians have not done enough to help their societies accept “the Other,” resorting instead to populism which has increased the levels of insecurity and uncertainty. Köppel, on the other hand, claimed that integration was a question of individual choice, and that Islam’s evident political undertone was the real reason for the Swiss minaret ban.

Though Laschet praised the benefits of immigration, according to Benhabib, Europeans have a particular problem positively evaluating immigration due to the fact that “the Other” is most enough seen as a Muslim immigrant. Amato and Köppel maintained that this was because Muslim immigrants in general have problems with modernity, the former referring especially to the lack of separation between state and religion in the countries of origin. Benhabib rejected this argument however, finding that religion and “backwardness” had nothing to do with another, and along with Laschet concluded that the focus on Islam was overrated and counterproductive.

Federation of Italian mosques mooted

Giuliano Amato, Italy’s outgoing interior minister, was expected to unveil a proposed federation of Italian mosques in Italy. The federation is intended to replace the Consulta Islamica, a body set up in 2005 by the Italian government, to represent various Muslim groups in the country. Amato put the Consulta Islamica on hold after several members fro Italy’s largest Islamic group, the UCOII, refused to sign a _charter of values’ in 2007 for Italy’s religious minorities. Under Amato’s proposition, the federation would contain 25 mosques – in addition to the 22 represented and headed by Rome’s mosque – which are linked to the Union of Italian Muslims, led by the imam of Turin. Amato was expected to present blueprints of the plans to journalists last week. It has the support of most members of the Consulta Islamica, who signed the Charter of Values.

17 “jihadists” detained in Italy, Uk, France and Portugal

17 alleged “jihadists,” mostly of Tunisian background, were detained yesterday in an international anti-terrorism operation performed by the Italian police. About two hundred international capture warrants were issued in four Italian cities (Milan, Bergamo, Varese, and Reggio Emilia); two English cities (London and Manchester), one in France (Paris) and one in Portugal (Porto). In Porto, the Police detained an Algerian citizen living in Portugal for the past 3 years, possessing legal documents to travel either in Portuguese territory and in the Schengen space. According to the Interior Italian Minister Giuliano Amato, this is a very important operation that has decapitated an active jihadist net in Europe.

Minister to present ‘charter of values’ to Muslims

Interior minister Giuliano Amato will visit Rome’s mosque to present a ‘Charter of Values for Citizenship and Integration.’ This is the first public presentation of the symbolic document, seeking to bridge the divide between Muslims and Italian’s Catholic communities, and is aimed at seeking harmonious integration of Italy’s growing immigrant communities.

Italian Minister Against Veil Ban

ROME – Swimming against the anti-hijab tide in the West, Italian interior minister Giuliano Amato on Thursday, September 27, rejected calls for banning the Muslim veil in public places. “If we are going to ban the veil in public places, it immediately begs the question: why should a nun be allowed to wear her habit and not a female Muslim,” he told newspaper La Stampa, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP). Hijab has been thrust into the limelight since the 2004 French ban on the Muslim headscarf at public schools and institutions. Several European countries have followed the French lead. The minister said that the Italian constitution guaranteed freedom of religion. Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

‘Positive Nuove Norme, Ora Semplificare Procedure Burocratiche’

Riconoscere la cittadinanza italiana ai figli di una coppia di immigrati di cui almeno uno sia residente regolarmente nel nostro paese _ “una scelta logica per un paese come l’Italia che _ diventato terra di immigrazione”: _ il commento di Mario Scialoja, presidente della sezione italiana della lega musulmana mondiale, all’istituto dello ‘ius solis’ introdotto nella normativa sull’immigrazione varata oggi dal Consiglio dei ministri. Introdurre lo ‘ius solis’ era stata una delle richieste avanzate al ministro dell’Interno, Giuliano Amato, da parte della Consulta per l’islam italiano di cui Sicaloja fa parte. Quanto all’insieme del pacchetto approvato dal governo, l’esponente musulmano sottolinnea che si tratti di misure “positive”. “E’ bene abbreviare il termine per ottenere la cittadinanza, ora per_ bisognerebbe facilitare le procedure burocratiche per l’ottenimento della cittadinanza, che sono attualmente una corsa ad ostacoli”.