Italy the UCOII’s turning point: “From now on, Imams have to speak Italian.”

Izzedin Elzir, the newly elected president of the Union of the Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII), has stated that Italian language must be adopted by all the imams. The moderate leader that is also attentive to the interfaith dialogue wants to loosen the traditional tie of its association with the Muslim Brotherhood. He underlined some crucial points; such as the need for transparency and for greater integration by Muslims into Italian society. He also expressed his commitment to make the Italian language the common idiom for the plethora of Muslim communities. His goal is to attain an agreement with the Italian state, which entails funding for Islamic places of worship. He also articulated his position concerning other hot button issues: on the veil, for example, he stated that although he thinks the face should be uncovered, it would be wrong to regulate by law matters that infringe upon freedom of choice. Regarding the knowledge of the Italian constitution and language as the prerequisite for obtaining a resident permit, he claimed that such knowledge is fundamental. He went on to state, that it is important to avoid propaganda but rather cooperate with the institutions and employers to set up workable laws which are able to counteract clandestine practices. Finally, asked on the issue of crucifix in the schools, he highlighted the need for approaches that are inclusive of other cultures.