Vatican: Historic Catholic-Muslim meeting planned

Catholic and Muslim representatives will meet in Rome, in either February or March to begin a historic interfaith dialogue. Pope Benedict XVI proposed the encounter as part of his official response to Christian leaders in October, by 138 Muslim scholars. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran did not give an exact date for meeting, but said that it would take place in the spring.

Pakistanis protest against consulate

Pakistanis living in Italy held a demonstration against what they perceived as an unreasonable attitude b the Pakistani consulate in Rome. The Italian government began regularizing illegal immigrants by issuing them work permits – but due to a non-cooperative attitude by the Pakistani consulate, almost twenty thousand Pakistanis were unable to complete the necessary documentation. The protestors threatened that they would go to the extent of self-immolation if the consulate did not begin to cooperate with public demand.

Palestinian makes music the answer to peace

Ramzi Aburedwan, a Palestinian living in Italy is working towards using the power of music to bring people together and aid the Middle East peace process. Aburedwan recently performed in two shows entitled ‘Al Kamandjati’ (The Violinist) at the prestigious Auditorium in Rome, with accompanying Israeli, Italian, and Muslim writers and actors to support him. In 2005, Aburedwan created a school of music that holds workshops for more than 400 children in refugee camps.

Vatican to accept Muslim dialogue call soon

The Vatican plans to respond positively to an appeal by Muslim scholars, in an unprecedented dialogue between Christians and Muslims. As of yet, the Catholic Church has not officially answered the call made last month by Muslim scholars, already hailed by many other Christian leaders. Cardinals in Rome and Vatican City asserted that Catholic leaders wanted a serious dialogue with Muslim leaders to help overcome misunderstandings. This is an opportunity the Lord has given us and put into the hearts of people to work together, said Cardinal Oswald Gracias from Mumbai. The Vatican is expected to invite a small group of scholars who signed the appeal for exploratory talks and interfaith discussion. Aref Ali Nayed, a signatory of the appeal, said Muslims understood the Vatican took time to respond and that a positive response “would be a clear sign of hope for the world.”

Minister to present ‘charter of values’ to Muslims

Interior minister Giuliano Amato will visit Rome’s mosque to present a ‘Charter of Values for Citizenship and Integration.’ This is the first public presentation of the symbolic document, seeking to bridge the divide between Muslims and Italian’s Catholic communities, and is aimed at seeking harmonious integration of Italy’s growing immigrant communities.

Mixed orchestra changing concepts about immigrants in Italy

The Orchestra di Piazza Vittoro is an orchestra based out of Rome, made up mostly of immigrants. The orchestra’s founder, Mario Tronco, states that The orchestra was conceived as a challenge to the government… I was interested in these people, and then in their music. Mixing languages and instruments, the orchestra plays to sold-out crowds and provides Italians with evidence about immigrants contrasting the typical stereotypes.

Italian Minister Against Veil Ban

ROME – Swimming against the anti-hijab tide in the West, Italian interior minister Giuliano Amato on Thursday, September 27, rejected calls for banning the Muslim veil in public places. “If we are going to ban the veil in public places, it immediately begs the question: why should a nun be allowed to wear her habit and not a female Muslim,” he told newspaper La Stampa, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP). Hijab has been thrust into the limelight since the 2004 French ban on the Muslim headscarf at public schools and institutions. Several European countries have followed the French lead. The minister said that the Italian constitution guaranteed freedom of religion. Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

Italy mosque put off, rightists rejoice

ROME – Bowing to pressures from right-wing groups, Italian authorities have put off plans to build a mosque in the northern city of Bologna pending consultations with local residents. Bologna’s mayor Sergio Cofferati said local residents will be surveyed about the construction of the mosque in the San Donato neighborhood, Reuters reported. “We will take into account the feelings of the neighborhood and then we will decide,” he said.

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.

RVW: Le cardinal Tauran nommé pour renforcer le dialogue avec l’islam

By Isabelle De Gaulmyn Le cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, jusqu’alors archiviste et biblioth_caire de la Sainte _glise romaine, prend la t_te du Conseil interreligieux Pour les experts du dialogue avec l’islam _ Rome, la nomination du cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, lundi 25 juin, par Beno_t XVI, _ la t_te du Conseil pontifical pour le dialogue interreligieux est une bonne nouvelle. Non seulement parce qu’elle met fin _ une p_riode de transition, o_ l’existence m_me de ce dicast_re de la Curie romaine, cr?_ en 1988, _tait remise en cause : un des premiers actes de Beno_t XVI avait _t_ en effet de muter en _gypte son pr_sident, Mgr Michael Fitzgerald, en f_vrier 2006, puis, en mars de la m_me ann_e, de regrouper ce Conseil _ _ titre temporaire _ sous l’autorit_ du cardinal Paul Poupard, d_j_ pr_sident du Conseil pour la culture.