July 1, 2013
“It’s just a matter of money” some members of the Moroccan community in Padua say they quarreled among themselves about economic issues and, it seems, can no longer pray together. For this reason they want another mosque, in a district which is already suffering, where integration is made impossible by immigrant riots who are without work. Numerous places of worship are transformed, little by little, into shelters, kitchens and hotels, as seen in the Bengali mosque in Via Jacopo da Montagnana. So Bitonci Massimo, president of the Northern League, has submitted an urgent request to ministers Alfano and Kyenge: “Padua is dying. Tourists and young people do not know how to spend thier free time. Do you want a curfew imposed on the center premises, because there is little investment into the city. The case is emblematic of Via Bernina: where there was a disco, now you want to raise another mosque. The project of the municipality is revealed: to transform our city to another Mecca, from which young people and entrepreneurs are forced to flee, while the various forms of humanity that revolve around places of worship create makeshift shelters.”
Local Diversity and Global Challenges
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Prof. Enzo Pace, University of Padua
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Prof. Liliane Voyé, Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve
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Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto
Organized by Institute of Sociology | University of Porto
Immigrants in the northern city of Padua are urging for the arrest of a Moroccan man who killed a young Italian while driving under intoxication of alcohol. The group of immigrants, led by Muhammad Ahmed, a Moroccan journalist, launched their appeal during a taping that later appeared on Italian television. The unnamed Moroccan man had blood alcohol levels that were reportedly four times “normal” limits, when his car struck and killed Simone Bacchini on a scooter, and injured two others. The man is believed to have fled Italy to his native Morocco. Anti-immigrant Northern League members are also lobbying the European Parliament for the man’s arrest.
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Immigrants in the northern Italian city of Padua have decided to contribute to local security, by organizing a local nighttime neighborhood watch. Mohammed Ahmed, an Egyptian-born news anchor, launched the initiative. The group of immigrants who are integrated in the local community will begin their patrol on Friday night, in several districts of the city. I want to send a message to all well-integrated foreigners like me in Italian society that they should not be afraid to go out on the street,” Ahmed said. Immigrants from North Africa and eastern Europe are expected to take part in the patrol.
As Northern League leader Leandro Comacchio stands outside supermarkets in Padua collecting signatures for a referendum to stop the construction of a local mosque, Muslims in the area are feeling increasingly concerned about discrimination being masked as concerned residents. Comacchio says that his actions are not aimed at Muslims, but rather, as a protest against the permissive center-left council, which he alleges is giving away land for a planned mosque. Fearful of increasing tensions, local Moroccan student Maher Selmi said: we don’t want confrontation. We want dialogue with all parties to find common ground. The mosque is planned to close by next month, or the owner will reclaim the site.
Zakaria Najib, the first Moroccan-born member of the far-right Northern League party has complained that there are too many mosques in Italy. Najib first came to Italy when he was 20 years old, and after living in the country for 30 years, now lives in the province of Padua. He is planning to run in Italy’s general elections in April as a candidate for the Northern Leauge, an anti-immigrant party. Najib told AKI that “In a nearby city council, 30,000 euros were given to restructure a mosque… Now they want to give another 800,000 euros to construct another bigger mosque a few kilometers away. It is time to say enough. I am not against mosques but here we really have too many.” Najib admitted that he was no longer a practicing Muslim and considered himself more culturally linked to Islam.
Italy’s former deputy education minister, Mariella Mazzetto, has sparked protests after parading a pig on the site of a planned mosque in the northern Italian city of Padua. Mazzetto, a member of the populist, anti-immigrant, right-wing party, said the act was in defense of maintaining Italian identity. Pigs are considered an unclean animal in Islam, making the act extremely insensitive for Muslims. Several officials across political lines have condemned Massetto’s offense, including Giancarlo Galen, the right wing president of the Veneto region, Padua’s left-wing mayor Flavio Zononto, and Green party councillor Aurora D’Agostino. In October, Northern League senator and former minister Roberto Calreroli proposed a regular pig day, in which he threatened to take his pet pig on land where Italy’s Muslim communities were planning new mosques. Northern Italy has seen a jump in share of the country’s immigrants, due largely to labor sought for farm and factory work.