Maroni “Open” to a Mosque “but only if it respects Italian roots”



The President of the Lombardy region, Roberto Maroni, is now “open” to the possibility of having a Mosque in Milan. One of the main critics of a construction of a mosque, Maroni now states that he is open to a Mosque, as long as a mosque “respects Italian culture, our traditions and history.” Roberto Maroni made these statements as part of a larger discussion celebrating the edict of Constantine in 313 and in anticipation of the arrival of the Patriarch in Italy on May 14. The Cardinal Angelo Scoula and the Mayor of Milan, Giuliano Pisapia, also confirmed their support of the Mosque.

Thousands Flee the Tunisian Crisis

After the recent uprisings in Tunisia, thousands (more than 5.000) of people are fleeing the country and have landed in the Isle of Lampedusa. The situation of humanitarian emergency has been declared by the Interior Minister Roberto Maroni and by the Council of Ministers. Maroni has asked the European Union to help Italy tackling this difficult situation.

There has been a bit of an argument between the Italian Interior Minister, who accused Europe to be unresponsive and ineffective, and the European Commissioner for the Interior Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom, who expressed a sincere concern for the situation and offered to allocate funds to tackle the emergence. So far, Maroni has noticed, nothing concrete has followed such promising statements.

In the meantime, Maroni has warned against the risks of terrorism and expressed a deep worry for public order and security in Lampedusa. The Tunisian government, in fact, does not have the control of its territory, especially of the coasts from where people leave on board of boats (people pay around 1/1.500 Euro for the journey). Tunisia, in other words, is unable to comply with the bilateral agreement with Italy concerning immigration. As a consequence, among those who reach Italy, there are dangerous criminals and potential terrorists. In order to address this problem, Maroni has asked the Tunisian Prime Minister the permission for the Italian police to monitor at least the major ports of the Northafrican country. After the strong refusal expressed by the Tunisian executive, Italy has turned to the EU asking for the intervention of FRONTEX, the European agency for borders. EU institutions, however, recognize that the issue concerns all Europe and requires a participated commitment.

The Interior Minister has convened the National Committee for Order and Security and has appointed the major of Lampedusa as the Commissioner for the Emergency, endowed with special power. Maroni and Berlusconi have also decided to devolve new buildings to Asylum seekers.

The situation in Lampedusa is serious. The reception centre in the Island is hosting the majority of the newcomers whose number, however, exceeds the actual capacity of the structure. Some refugees have been sent to other centers in Sicily and in the south of Italy. In the last few days, however, the arrivals seem decreased. The situation remains critical. Moreover, many have died in the sea since mid January, trying to reach Italy. The Church is pressing politicians to tackle the situation not only through legal tools but also showing human solidarity toward a tragedy of biblical proportions.

The islamic third way

The famous Italian historian, Franco Cardini, asks whether the time has come for Italy to examine Islam in a peaceful way, avoiding stereotypes and demagogic strategies. He admits, however, that looking at recent national events, there is not much hope. More precisely, he refers to the new Committee for Islam set up by the Italian Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni (Northern League). This Committee, in Cardini’s view, might be e troubling sign because it includes notorious Italian Islamophobes as well as people that are highly critical of Islam, while excluding UCOII, one of the most important and large Islamic associations in the country. This lack of balance has caused the resignation of the Committee’s president, Mario Scialoja, who is well known as a moderate Muslim leader. As Cardini points out, the integration of the more than 1.5 million of Muslims remains unresolved. Another issue which this historian highlights in this article as in urgent need of conversation and talk, witch might change the way that the Italian public and its politicians has viewed the Muslim Brotherhood, broadly labeled and considered a fundamentalist and terrorist organization, even though it has never been seriously investigated. Emblematic, in this respect, is the fate of Tariq Ramadan, one of the most intelligent and interesting representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. He is often considered to be a dangerous agitator and was even prevented from entering France. This is indicative, says Cardini, of our low level of understanding of Islam. He recommends a book, recently published in Italy by two famous Italian Islamologists, dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood in the contemporary world. What emerges from this study is a complex image of the group which, besides supporting certain guerrilla activities, is clearly widening and deepening its social and welfare commitments. The crucial question, then, is whether it will be able to play a leading role in setting up an autochthonous model of democracy in the Arab world, rather than the one favored in the West.

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.

The mayor of Milan to the interior Minister: “We have to discipline the diffusion of mosqes all around Italy”

Abdel Hamid Shaari, president of the Islamic Institute in Milan, is asking to Letizia Moratti, mayor of Milan, for the authorization to build a new, proper and dignified space of worship for Muslims just outside the city. It would be a small mosque, well connected to Milan and totally self-financed. Letizia Moratti, in turn, is asking Roberto Maroni, the Italian interior minister, to issue an official directive to manage homogeneously the worship spaces of those religious communities that don’t have official relationships with the Italian state. In the meantime, Letizia Moratti guarantees Milanese citizens that she will prevent Muslims from praying in the sidewalks of a notorious area of the city (Viale Jenner, at the center of clashes and public demonstrations in the past). The Northern League component of the municipality, however, starkly refuses to recognize any other space for Muslims and declares a strong opposition.

The other side of Italy: Where the kebab frightens more than a sawan-off shotgun

A plethora of Mafia organizations are well rooted in the North of Italy, where they aim not only at laundering but also at controlling the territory, local institutions and tenders. When questioned about this Mafia “emergency,” all Northern League politician’s continuously circumvent the issue at hand and continue to focus on security ordinances against sellers of ethnic food.

Letizia Moratti, mayor of Milan, asked Roberto Maroni, the Italian interior minister, to issue a decree law to allow frisking migrants’ houses in order to find illegal immigrants. The decree against urban blight in action in Via Padova (the street in Milan where clashes between immigrants took place few weeks ago) mandates: kebab shops to close at 10 pm, massage centers to close at 8 pm, discos to close at 2 am, and for restaurants to close by midnight. Many view such a decree to reflect a curfew like environment that one would have experienced during periods of war.

These right wing politicians refuse to even acknowledge the presence of the Mafia in Northern Italy-as evidenced by the lack of mention on the topic in recent electoral campaigns. It has been proven that the murder rate increase, in the last 10 to 25 years, has been perpetuated by the mafia. Despite this, it would seem that the Mafia presence in North Italy is escaping the concerns of it politicians. Instead, “Padania,” the land of the Northern League, has unleashed an ideological war against a presumed “Islamic danger” while ignoring the role of the extremely powerful and dangerous Mafia clans, whose reach encroaches into public works and all big state projects.

Islam: risk of fundamentalism

The Home Secretary Roberto Maroni, representative of the Lega Nord Party, has expressed his concern towards Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism that is creeping especially in the North of Italy. In this sense, he interprets the Swiss vote as the natural outcome of a legitimate preoccupation that he fully subscribes. The
minarets, in fact, are the symbols of the political ambition of Islam. Politics has the role, in his perspective, to challenge the dangerous union of Politics and religion that pertains specifically to Islam.

He alluded to the possibility of running consultative referenda about the building of Islamic worship spaces. He also expressed the intention to subscribe a security agreement between the Police forces and the local governments in the area of Como, Lago Maggiore and Lago di Lugano (North) in order to prevent possible terrorist attacks.

Milan mosque to be closed down

A mosque in Milan that has been deemed controversial by some, is to be shut down, said the Italian government. The Jenner mosque has about 4,000 worshippers each week, and people often spill out onto the streets during Friday prayers. After complaints from local residents, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said that he will close the mosque by this August. The Catholic church has come out in support of the Muslim community in Milan, and leading Roman Catholic Monsignor Gianfranco Bottoni accused Mr. Maroni of behaving like a fascist. A local statium has offered space for worshippers to pray for the time being. However, the stadium would only be available four days a week, and each person would be charged on entry. The president of the Jenner mosque, Abdel Hamid Shaari said that he is happy to pay, but the mosque’s members won’t be treated like nomads. Those who choose to pray outside the mosque in protest would be fined this according to a law regarding the obstruction of streets and passageways. While no specific reason has been cited for the mosque’s closure, the move is related to community complaints about the mosque being in a residential area, and concerns over hygiene issues related to halal butchers operating from inside the mosque.