Thousands mourn quake victims at funeral mass, Muslims included in mourning ceremonies

Thousands of mourners took part in an emotional funeral Mass for victims of the earthquake in the central Italian region of Abruzzo that left 290 people dead and 28,000 homeless. A representative of the Italian Muslim community, Mohamed Nour Dachan, participated in the funerals. Dachan appealed that all the mourners be “united in brotherly live,” and was met with applause. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was also in attendance of the service, which was lead by the Vatican’s second highest official, Cardinal Tascisio Bertone, and was broadcast live on national television.

Italian Muslim organizations call for mosques across country to pray, raise funds for earthquake victims

The director of Rome’s Grand Mosque is urging mosques across Italy to hold their Friday prayers for the victims of the devastating earthquake in central Italy, which killed at least 278 people, injured several thousand, and left around 28,000 homeless. “I am asking the imams of all of Italy’s mosques to follow our example and to organize prayers for the victims of the earthquake that has struck Abruzzo,” said Abdellah Redouane. “It is important for Muslims to show solidarity with the earthquake victims and demonstrate their wish to contribute to the greater good of society,” Redouane added.

Mosques in the southern Puglia region, Tuscany, northern Veneto, and Lombardy regions have taken up Redouane’s appeal. Italy’s Union of Islamic Communities stated that it is ready to help survivors of the earthquake, by donating blood and coordinating with aid efforts.

The president of the organization, Mohammed Nour Dachan, added that the UCOII is collecting funds for victims, and accepting donations in mosques across Italy. “Everything that will be collected at mosques in Italy will be given as charity for the victims of the quake in Abruzzo,” said Dachan. “We feel very close to the joys and pains that affect our country,” said Dachan, who is also the imam of the central Italian city of Ancona’s mosque. Dachan added that despite religious difference, all a part of a “big family” that experiences tragedy together.

Most Muslims are not subversive, says umbrella group

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.