December 13, 2013
PALERMO – The Confederation of Italian Islam, a network of mosques founded two years ago by the Imam Wahid el Fihri, landed in Sicily today. An event is scheduled for Saturday, December 14 and will include a meeting with the Regional Federation of Sicily, who will join other regional leaders of the organization in the confederation. The confederation now represents more than 200 mosques throughout Italy.
El Fihri – “After founding the confederation in all regions of the north and center of Italy” explains Fihri “we now have members in the south of the country. After our visit to Campania, led by Abdullah Cozzolino over the weekend, we will start our event in Sicily.”
The Consulate of Morocco will also participate in the event, scheduled for the morning in Piazza Santa Chiara. The guest of the day will be the consulate of Morocco in Palermo, Sabri Ahmed, who will lead a welcome to his fellow citizens that are part of the Federation.
Corriere del Mezzogiorno: http://corrieredelmezzogiorno.corriere.it/palermo/notizie/cronaca/2013/13-dicembre-2013/islam-moderati-sbarca-sicilia-2223793158047.shtml
International Business Times: http://it.ibtimes.com/articles/60212/20131212/islam.htm
August 28, 2013
By Gaetana D’Amico and Christopher Livesay
Palermo, August 28 – Owners of a Palermo apartment were shocked to discover during recent renovations that part of their home was once an ornate 18th-century mosque. The flat in Via Porta di Castro is in an area of buildings over what used to be the Kemonia river, before it was filled in around the year 1600, near the Royal Palace of Palermo. The couple, Giuseppe Cadili and Valeria Giarrusso, both journalists, bought the apartment eight years ago. They had planned to knock down the wall of a room to create an open area, but Cadili soon realized that the plaster was damp.
“There was a leak inside of a wall. Cleaning it up a bit I realized that there was Arabic writing on it,” he said, noting the script was in gold and silver painted on blue background. “I would never have imagined that the writing covered all four walls”. Experts say the mosque was built inside a private dwelling, the first discovery of its kind in Sicily. It was at that point that the amazed owners decided to have it examined. Gaetano Basile, an expert in Palermo history, told them the inscriptions were artisan versions of a decorative calligraphy widespread in the 1700s. Most of it is purely decorative, Basile told Salvatore Ferro of the daily Il Giornale di Sicilia. “This is a well-known part of our culture, marked by the invention of ‘rabbisco’, an entirely Sicilian legacy of arabesque design,” he said. “The Sicilian artisan, who did not know Arabic, mistook calligraphic verses for decoration, and emulated them.” It is likely that the house belonged to a North African nobleman or merchant who had made his home in Palermo around the later 1700s,” he added, noting that a large Muslim community lived in the Sicilian capital at the time. “The owner basically had a mosque built in his house. There are clear indications of this.”
“First of all, it faces east, the walls are of an identical size – 3.5 by 3.5 meters, it has doors located in such a way as to prevent the placement of furniture, and the ceiling has a repeating lamp pattern”. The owners intend to preserve the space as is. “We wanted to give the proper weight to this discovery and convey our love for the historic center,” Cadili said. “Too often things from our past are destroyed instead of bringing them back to life.” This room also transmits an extraordinary feeling of serenity. “This is why we decided to keep it as we found it: we put in a sofa and a desk and, out of respect for the Muslim culture, we do not serve alcoholic beverages in this room.”
“In Palermo it is important support the mosaic of Arab and Islamic presence” said the mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, at the conference “Culture and Islamic Civilization in Italy” organized by the Muslim World League at the Mosque of Rome. The mayor also reiterated the willingness of Palermo to support the construction of a mosque and an Islamic cultural center.
During the conference, Muhammad Saleh Al Ghamdi, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Italy and chairman of the board of directors of the Islamic Cultural Center of Italy, said that “Italy is a beautiful country, a friendly country with which we have excellent relations. In October we will celebrate the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Italy and Saudi Arabia, ‘confirming’ the depth of the ties not only between political Arab and Islamic countries and Italy but also a relationship characterized by mutual dialogue and mutual understanding.”
Speaking of Sicily, the Saudi ambassador also said that “the seeds of love towards Palermo and Sicily sprout in my heart.” The event was also attended by, among others, Ambassador of the Sultanate of Oman in Italy, Fareed Alkhotani, the World Muslim League and Izzedin Elzir, President of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy.
At the end of the speeches, Mayor Orlando received the gift of a copy of the Koran, “which” he said “will be housed in the future Islamic Cultural Center of Palermo.”
Thirty Muslim imam, brokers and managers of the Muslim community participated in a free seminar for those in Muslim communities in Italy. The course is supported by Isesco (Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), in collaboration with the COREIS (Italian Religious Communities), the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Kuwait and the Municipality of Palermo. The students, from all of the provinces of Sicily, participate in four days of seminars which focus on Islam in the West. Started last year in Padua, the course is one of the first in Italy.
During a three-day conference sponsored by the United Nations, Islamic humanism as been one of the most popular topics at a World Philosophy Day event. “The West asks if in the future, Islam will be able to put man at the centre of the world. Therefore, is Islam capable of going from a theocentric humanism to an anthropocentric one? In the Koran there is a track that can be explored,” said Abdenour Bidar, a popular Muslim thinker today. Philosophy students, academics, journalists, diplomats, and others gathered for the conference, whose theme was “Power and Rights.”
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About 150 immigrants from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh are expected to take part in a cricket tournament in Palermo. Palermo Councillor Giampiero Cannella said “the tournament is part of a municipal initiative in order to foment a real and concrete integration of immigrants that have chosen to live in Sicily, between them and Sicilians.” He continued saying that the tournament is an opportunity for Italians to get to know the game as an introduction to a sport popular to many of the city’s inhabitants, and for the immigrant community to be “able to practice the sport of their country of origin.”
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