Though polygamous marriages are illegal in Italy, they are reportedly on the rise. While few Italian Muslims admit such unions, Muslim scholars put the number between 15,000-20,000 nationwide. Opinions in Italy are divided over the practice – “It’s a statistically irrelevant phenomenon that affects very few families, within which the presence of more than one wife doesn’t create problems,” said sociologist Stefano Allievi. However, Italy’s Moroccan Women’s Association president and parliamentary candidate for the centre-right People of Freedom Alliance, Souad Sbai, has a different view: There are thousands of cases of polygamy and in most instances, women suffer abuse. Husbands beat wives who don’t want to accept another wife… After a few years, polygamists sometimes abandon their second wives, who then find they are not entitled to benefits and have no rights – they cannot file for divorce, because in the eyes of the state, they were never married.”
The Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy (UCOII), Italy’s umbrella Muslim group, released a statement stating that most Muslims in the country are not involved I subversive activities. “UCOII would like to reassure the community that the great majority of Muslims are not involved in any activities that are subversive and against public order and national security” said the organization’s president Nour Dachan. The statement was released in response to recent news stories about police reports on the identification of some mosques as potentially dangerous. Dachan stated that loyalty to respect for law and country are among the absolute priorities of Italian Muslims.
Italian Muslims commended an endeavor by senior Senator Silvana Amati, concerning a law regulating the wearing of hijab in Italy, as Italian Muslims hold out hope that the right-wing opposition would not block the motion. Amati unveiled an initiative to draft a law regulating the wearing of the hijab in public places, and the law, if passed, will give legal protection to hijab against opposition by politicians, especially the right-wingers. The Italian senator said that the motion would stipulate that faces must not be covered.
The imam of Rome’s mosque has called off a first-ever visit to the city’s synagogue, which had been hailed as a historic step in inter-faith dialogue between Italian Muslims and Jews. The synagogue’s rabbi expressed concern over what he called alarming signals from Egypt pointing to opposition to the visit among Islamic scholars because of the recent blockage of the Gaza strip. Italian newspapers said the Rome imam, Ala Eldin al Ghobashy, had been contacted by al-Azhar University, and had been advised against the visit. Muslim leaders in Rome denied intervention from Egypt, and instead cited logistical problems, and that the visit had not been cancelled, but delayed.
More than 3,000 Muslims gathered last week in Milan’s Palaldo stadium to send a message of love and fraternity. The gatherers prayed and sang for peace, and offered opportunities to donate for the needy. Verses of the Quran citing respect for human values, piety, and care for the disadvantaged were read, as many reaffirmed that was the true nature of their religion. Similar events were held in the cities of Lodi, Reggio Emilia, and Brescia.
Italian Muslims have acted to stop the sale of toilet seat covers featuring verses of the Quran. The Orizzonte Company, based in Lazio, unveiled the product among a larger collection of offensive toilet seat covers. Following complaints, police raided branches of the company and seized the offensive products.
The end of Ramadan celebration, Eid Al-Fitr, is bittersweet for Italian Muslims this year. A rise in right-wing politicians media exploitation over hot topics such as women’s clothing issues, have frustrated Muslims who would not like for their Eid festivities to be spoiled by bickering over trivialities. Samir Al-Khalidi, imam of the Al-Huda Islamic center states that there are more imminent concerns for most of Italy’s Muslims – “Muslims are focusing on issues such as mosque construction, political representation, integration and Islamophobia.”
ROME – The leaders of Muslim communities in Italy endorsed on Monday statements by pope Benedict XVI who warned that Africa and Asia feel threatened by the West’s materialism and secularism. “We agree with the pope,” said Roberto Piccardo, the spokesman of Italy’s largest Muslim group UCOII. “It is true that Muslims are puzzled by a West which is hostage to a materialistic system.” Mario Scialoja, the former president of the World Muslim League, also expressed support for the pope’s words, saying that the “West’s exclusion of God leads to the wrong life models.”
The leaders of Muslim communities in Italy endorsed on Monday statements by pope Benedict XVI who warned that Africa and Asia feel threatened by the West’s materialism and secularism. “We agree with the pope,” said Roberto Piccardo, the spokesman of Italy’s largest Muslim group UCOII. “It is true that Muslims are puzzled by a West which is hostage to a materialistic system.” Mario Scialoja, the former president of the World Muslim League, also expressed support for the pope’s words, saying that the “West’s exclusion of God leads to the wrong life models.” Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech Sunday in Munich which made headlines in all the main Italian newspapers for its indirect reference to Islam. “People in Africa and Asia admire our scientific and technical prowess but at the same time they are frightened by a form of rationality which totally excludes God from man’s vision, as if this were the highest form of reason,” he said. Expressing concern that secularism and materialism have replaced religious faith in the West, Benedict XVI also said non-Western societies “don’t perceive the Christian faith as the true threat to their identity but instead contempt of God and cynism.” Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini, the deputy leader of another leading Muslim group in Italy, COREIS, called for “more cooperation between different religions so as to make sure the West doesn’t become a place of materialism, loss of values and the absence of references to the sacred and spirituality.”
Italy’s Interior minister has approved the creation of an advisory council to improve communication between the government and the Muslim community, the ministry announced. The body will respond directly to the Interior Ministry, and will be responsible for counselling the government on facilitating the integration of Muslims in Italy. Its members will be representatives from Italy’s Muslim community and academics appointed by the ministry, officials said on Saturday. “They will express opinions, and formulate proposals on questions indicated by the ministry,” Minister Giuseppe Pisanu was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency. Representatives of the Muslim community in Italy welcomed the proposals. Italian Islam? “It is a good start, in the hope that it will contribute to the objective of creating an Italian Islam,” Mario Scialoja, the president of the Muslim World League in Italy, told ANSA. Italy has been on a heightened state of alert since the July bombings on London’s Underground. A recent report by Italy’s Executive Committee of Information and Security Services found that North African communities in northern Italy are likely to be targeted – mostly Tunisians and Moroccans living in the northern regions of Piedmont, Lombardy and Emilia Romagna. The Italian government this summer approved reforms to fight terrorism, and this week it expelled two men of North African descent on charges that they posed a “danger” to public safety.