February 11, 2014
Even though Islam is the second largest religion in Italy, it still lacks a recognized national representational body. This lack of a cohesive front was strongly emphasized in a conference on Islam in Italy, held at the University of Rome.
“Istat data tell us that today there are about 1.7 million Muslims in Italy” says Izzedin Elzir, imam of Florence and Ucoii President, the Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy “there are more than 700 mosques. Muslims contribute about 4-5 % of the national GDP, and also represent an important cultural, religious and social contribution to Italian society. In other words” continued Elzir “Islam represents an added value to Italy. Yet, in spite of a Constitution that guarantees freedom of religion, there is an absence of a subsequent law to recognize the Muslim community by the Italian State.”
The discussion surrounding this debate is the Italian Memorandum of Understanding that governs the relationship between the Italian state and other minority religions other than Catholicism, such as Judaism or Buddhism.
“When you enter into this agreement, the counterparty is a unitary organization. But who can speak on behalf of Muslims in Italy? As long as you do have an answer to this question, then there can be no agreement.” In addition to the lack of leadership to specify a formal relationship with the Italian state, the lack of a recognized institution and shared unity within the Islamic community illustrates another risk: could any self-proclaimed “Imam” whip up a mosque in a private and propagate a radical Islamic agenda? This is a possibility against which the Ucoii and representatives of Islam call unwarranted “let’s spread a culture of integration: we are, and we feel Italian Muslim. We want to cooperate with the local authorities (municipalities and regions) and with law enforcement: Italy’s security also means the security of the Islamic community” says Elzir.
Firenze post: http://www.firenzepost.it/2014/02/13/vogliamo-essere-italiani-di-fede-islamica/
9 February 2013
Cuneo, in the region of Piedmont, held an “Islam, Christianity, and Constitution: Christians, Muslims and the Secular State” conference at the Association of Saint Thomas. The meeting was organized by the Association of Paths of Peace, The Mambre Community, Santos-Milani Training Center, School of Peace in Boves an the Islamic Community Association of Cuneo.
The meeting comes as a result of the 11th anniversary of Ecumenical day of dialog between Islam and Christianity, the day is celebrated on the 27 of October.
The meeting based on Ecumenical day themes will focus on the following: the Italian constitution this year marks its 65 anniversary and its basic principles. Second, the conference will focus on Islam in Italy especially the struggles of becoming “Italian Islam” despite 40 years of Muslims living in Italy. Third, Italian issues with the construction of Mosques best exemplified by the 2010 Genoa case.
August 18, 2010
The vice president of the regional council for immigration in Veneto, a Muslim of Moroccan origin, has acknowledged that pedophilia also exists within the Muslim community and has been further facilitated by the cover up of some imams. Civil society, he says, should prevent such phenomena working specifically with mothers in order for them to recognize the signs in their children of abuse. It is important, he continues, to raise awareness within the Muslim community on this topic; so as to identify and face the problem in order effectively implement preventative policies.
August 22, 2010
Coop and Carrefour, two famous brands of supermarket, are planning to sell halal meat in their stores in the region of Piedmont. The supermarkets actions will simply the life of the Piedmontese Muslim community; however on the other hand it has triggered a passionate debate by animal rights associations which have launched a boycott and information campaign. The animal rights groups are critical of the Islamic method of killing animals, which calls for the animal to be conscious when it is slaughtered. The traditional procedure adopted by Italian supermarkets, instead, requires that the animal is anaesthetized before being killed so as to reduce the suffering, which leads to lower levels of toxins in the animal’s blood and flesh. To tone down the controversy, Coop has assured that the Imam responsible for the slaughtering has accepted the use of anesthesia. However, it will be the Muslim consumers, who represent a growing segment of the Italian market that will decide the success of this initiative.
August 11, 2010
The vice president of the regional committee for immigration and the leader of Moroccan Communities of Treviso have been informed by the Consul of Morocco in Verona; of an initiative undertaken by the Moroccan government to send two theologians to the regions Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. The two envoys will travel around these regions during the period of Ramadan to teach to Imams the correct Sunni interpretation of the doctrine. They will focus on moderation, openness and dialogue with all religions. The aim of the initiative is to counter the widespread stereotypes surrounding Islam as a violent, extremist and threatening religion. The meetings will be open to Islamic and non Islamic audience in order to promote the idea of Islam as a tolerant and peaceful faith. The initiative has been welcomed even by the Northern League’s regional assessor. However, he has urged the Muslim community to ensure that the sermons are delivered in Italian in order to discern the contents conveyed, and to work on an official register for imams.
August 17, 2010
The association “Alternativa Culturale dei Marocchini in Italia” (Cultural Alternative of Italian Moroccans) is providing for Iftar to Moroccan prisoners in the Lazio region during the period of Ramadan. This project is coordinated by the foundation Hassan II and the Ministry of Moroccan Community Abroad. The Guarantor of the prisoners’ rights in the region Lazio has welcomed the initiative and the directors of many prisons in the region are checking its feasibility. The plan, says the Guarantor, has undeniable social value as it facilitates a connection between the detainees and the outside world. This is of particular importance considering the difficulty that overcrowded Italian prisons are facing. The initiative, in fact, encourages the detainees toward social rehabilitation.
After a young Muslim girl published on YouTube a video by a Facebook group called “no all’ Islam in Italia” (No Islam in Italy), and her warnings of the video’s clear incitements to racial hatred against Muslims, the group has been banned from Facebook. The article’s author accuses Facebook authorities of their treatment of Muslims with kid’s gloves and favoring them over other categories. He denounces the fact that it has become virtually impossible to criticize Islam or to participate in a public debate on it. He thinks this “two weights two measures” approach is unfair since there are a lot of fundamentalist groups who preach against the West and Christianity on the Internet without being subject to equivalent control. The group however will continue its mission that, according to the members, seeks to create local platforms for discussion without falling into political propaganda.
Sumaya Abdel Kader wears the hijab, adores Queen, speaks Italian perfectly and is even planning to take her second degree. She strongly opposes the common idea that veiled women are jinxed hidden under a curtain. She is a 32 years old woman that wears the veil according to the new Islamic fashion which respects young Muslim women willingness not to become ugly and let themselves go. Sumaya is an Italian citizen, born in Perugia from Jordanian-Palestinian parents and is Muslim. She is proud of her mixed cultural heritage. She is well accepted by the majority of both Italians and Muslims who have acknowledged the multicultural reality of Italy. This popularity is testified by her participation in many events and conferences all around the country to publicize her book “Porto il velo e adoro i Queen”, “I Wear the Veil and Adore Queen”. What she doesn’t like of the Italian society is the fact that wearing the veil is still very difficult. Usually, in fact, those who chose to veil are subject to discrimination, especially at work. Moreover, many people express stupor at her playful and sunny temperament, as her way of being was in contradiction with her way of dressing. She underlines the difficulties she usually faces also with certain Islamic immigrants who, for example, see being a Muslim in contradiction with choosing to speak Italian with her children. But she doesn’t perceive any contradiction in it as she considers herself Italian (she has just obtained the Italian citizenship after having waited for 13 years!).
In the first case of a fine for wearing a burqa in Italy. To be exact, the woman, a 26 years old Tunisian, was wearing a niqab, thus violating the recent bylaws of the Northern League’s mayor of Novara who justified the new rule for security reasons and to make clear that those who come respect the local traditions. The story of the fine started last autumn, when the mayor met casually a totally veiled woman on the street and called the police force to identify her. He then discovered what he perceives as a leak in the Italian legislative system that allows people to get away with covering fully. Therefore, he thought of launching a special bylaw. He maintains that, this measure applies also to those wearing helmets in public. However, the debate around burqa pays much more in political terms. The woman was stopped near the Post Office, but when the policemen asked her to unveil for identification, her husband strongly opposed for religious reasons. The traffic police intervened solving the situation offering the Tunisian woman to unveil in front of a woman traffic warden. The Tunisian woman was nevertheless fined. The problem raised by the case, as indicated by the writer, revolves around the autonomy of the woman: did she chose herself to wear the niqab or was forced by her husband? It wasn’t possible to find out as the husband was the only one speaking.
Roberto Maroni, the Italian interior minister, has ordered the immediate repatriation for security reasons of two Moroccan students at the University of Perugia. According to the investigations, the two foreigners were declared highly dangerous since they were ready to commit acts of terrorism in the country. Although the students were not in contact with the international terrorist net but were “self-trained” via the Internet, they were nonetheless deemed a serious threat for our country and therefore expelled.