‘I wear the veil and Adore Queen”

Sumaya Abdel Kader wears the hijab, adores Queen, speaks Italian perfectly and is even planning to take her second degree. She strongly opposes the common idea that veiled women are jinxed hidden under a curtain. She is a 32 years old woman that wears the veil according to the new Islamic fashion which respects young Muslim women willingness not to become ugly and let themselves go. Sumaya is an Italian citizen, born in Perugia from Jordanian-Palestinian parents and is Muslim. She is proud of her mixed cultural heritage. She is well accepted by the majority of both Italians and Muslims who have acknowledged the multicultural reality of Italy. This popularity is testified by her participation in many events and conferences all around the country to publicize her book “Porto il velo e adoro i Queen”, “I Wear the Veil and Adore Queen”. What she doesn’t like of the Italian society is the fact that wearing the veil is still very difficult. Usually, in fact, those who chose to veil are subject to discrimination, especially at work. Moreover, many people express stupor at her playful and sunny temperament, as her way of being was in contradiction with her way of dressing. She underlines the difficulties she usually faces also with certain Islamic immigrants who, for example, see being a Muslim in contradiction with choosing to speak Italian with her children. But she doesn’t perceive any contradiction in it as she considers herself Italian (she has just obtained the Italian citizenship after having waited for 13 years!).

A jihadist cell discovered at the Universtiy of Perugia: Two Moroccan students expelled

Roberto Maroni, the Italian interior minister, has ordered the immediate repatriation for security reasons of two Moroccan students at the University of Perugia. According to the investigations, the two foreigners were declared highly dangerous since they were ready to commit acts of terrorism in the country. Although the students were not in contact with the international terrorist net but were “self-trained” via the Internet, they were nonetheless deemed a serious threat for our country and therefore expelled.

First veiled Italian Muslim woman runs for local elections

Maymouna Abdel Qadar has become the first Italian Muslim woman wearing the hijab or headscarf to run for local elections. Abdel Qadar, who is of Palestinian descent, is running in the central city of Perugia – the elections will take place on June 6th and 7th. She is running for Perugia’s communal council for the Sinistra e Liberta coalition, which is made up of mainly socialist, anti-war, and secular parties. “Though being the first veiled Muslim woman that has ever run for elections in Italy, until now I have received a positive response from the people, who have also appreciated my choice, and look at me as a novelty of the local political scene,” said Abdel Qader. Maymouna is a political science graduate of the University of Perugia, and the daughter of Mohammed Abdel Qader, the imam of Perugia. She is also one of the founders of the Young Italian Muslims association. She has stated that her objective is to represent Italy’s second generation of Muslim immigrants in Italy – what she calls “the new Italians.”

Italian magistrates investigate second imam in Perugia terror probe

There is another imam among the people placed under investigation by the public prosecutor’s office in Perugia. The man’s name is Muhammad El Absi, a member of the mosque in Pierantonio di Umbertide, not far from Ponte Felcino, the place where investigators claim the “school of terror” was located. During one of the searches on the preacher’s premises, a number of CDs were seized which, according to his defence, are “completely irrelevant”; in the view of his attorney, “there is no link with the charges contemplated over Ponte Felcino.” But the Pierantonio imam has reportedly ended up on the list of persons under investigation precisely because he used to frequent the mosque which is at the centre of the investigation. In the meantime, new details are emerging regarding the investigations currently under way. According to the case against him, the plans of Mustapha El Korchi, the imam currently under arrest, and of his collaborators were geared towards radicalizing the main mosques in Umbria. This fact appears to be confirmed by the heightening in recent months of conflicts within the Islamic community in Perugia, which culminated in the protests against the imam in Umbria’s main city [Perugia], which historically has been the expression of a moderate stance. But, according to the preventive detention warrant, the Ponte Felcino cell looked beyond this too, maintaining numerous contacts abroad.

Muslim league chairman says Italy “full of dangerous fundamentalists”

Text of report by Italian newspaper La Stampa on 22 July [Interview with former Italian ambassador Mario Scialoja, chairman of Muslim League in Italy, by Giacomo Galeazzi in Rome; date not given: “‘Too Many Fanatics. Italy, Look Out'” – first paragraph is La Stampa introduction] Rome – “We are looking at real criminal activities here. It is no coincidence that the imam of Perugia is a Moroccan. Italy is full of dangerous fundamentalists who flee moderate Islamic countries and come over here to commit crimes, dealing in drugs and work permits.” [Former] Ambassador Mario Scialoja, chairman of the Muslim League in Italy, and a member of the Consultative Committee for Islam, was “very worried,” and made no secret of the fact. “The Perugia affair is a huge case of the inappropriate use of a place which ought to be devoted to religion – he said – Within the Islamic community there is a lack of any control, only the secret services can uncover such serious violations of the law.” He added: “An official register is needed for imams in Italy. And a training course is necessary. Monitoring of the Muslim community is needed. But this does not prevent an individual from carrying out illegal activities, such as those in Perugia, or as happened in Britain. In these instances, it is the intelligence services and the police which can intervene.” {[Galeazzi] So do you agree with the alert at the Viminale [interior ministry] over fundamentalism?} [Scialoja] Yes, without doubt [Interior] Minister Giuliano Amato has every cause. The Perugia investigation shows that threatening, underground networks are in action. Fortunately, the intelligence services and the DIGOS [Division for General Investigations and Special Operations] are proving to be efficient, and are being fairly successful in preventing crime, and bringing the crimes to light. According to information from my friends at the interior ministry, in Italy there 630 mosques and prayer rooms. Five have ended up under investigation for illegal activities, but often the examining magistrates have acquitted the people who have had reports made out against them. This is the point: the fact that the cases which have emerged are isolated, to date, does not make the phenomenon less worrying. They are extreme and dangerous fringe groups which take action in the shadows.

Terrorist threat raises fears in Italy, Germany

ITALY/ GERMANY: Italy and Germany experienced fresh concerns about Islamic terrorist activity over the weekend. Three Moroccans accused of running a “terror school” were arrested near Perugia, central Italy, last Saturday. On the same day Germany’s deputy interior minister August Hanning warned that al-Qaeda activists are targeting Germany for attack. Imam Korchi El Mostapha (41) and two aides, Mohammed El Jari (47) and Driss Safika (46), were arrested in a dawn raid in the village of Ponte Felcino, 7km north of the well-known Umbrian university town, Perugia. Anti-terror police reported they had found evidence of training in explosives and poisons, chemical supplies including cyanide and acids and instructions on how to fly a Boeing 747. “The evidence has shown that, in the Ponte Felcino mosque, there was sustained training for terrorist activity. We have discovered and neutralised a real “terror school, part of a widespread terrorist system made up of small cells that act on their own”, commented anti-terror police chief, Carlo De Stefano. According to police, activities at the mosque included the storage of potentially dangerous chemicals and the screening of films which contained instructions on bomb making, the detonation of bombs via mobile phone and on how to stage a bomb attack. Police also said that the three men arrested on Saturday had been in contact with the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group, GICM, in Belgium two years ago. GICM is believed to have ties to al-Qaeda and may have had a role in attacks in Casablanca in 2003 and the Madrid train bombings of 2004. Saturday’s arrests were the result of a two-year investigation based in Perugia, a popular tourist destination and home to a prestigious University For Foreigners, where hundreds of international students are enrolled. In a related raid, 20 foreign students were also arrested whilst police have a warrant for another man, believed to have left Italy.