Moderate Islam Lands in Sicily

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

Mosque emerges from Palermo home improvement: ‘We won’t serve alcohol here, out of respect’ say owners

MoscheaAugust 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, Orlando “is open” to Islam “with the construction of a Mosque and a Cultural Center”

5/12/2013

 

“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.”

Sicilian Catholics and Muslims discuss “Sustaining the Family”

Fernando Massimo Adonia

April 15, 2013

An interfaith meeting took place in Catania. The Islamic community together with the Catholic community came together to discuss ‘family in crisis.’ In Catania Imam Kheit Abdelhafid, President of the Islamic community of Sicily opened the meeting. The meeting’s main theme is “The Muslim family, the Christian family: challenges and hopes.” The meeting began with the reading of a passage from the Koran and the proclamation of the gospel.

Imams Participate in Training Seminar in 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.

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.

Immigrants to stage first cricket tournament in Sicily

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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Dead immigrants to be honored with new memorial

A new memorial is expected to be unveiled on the island of Lampedusa, near Sicily, to serve as a memorial and reminder of the thousands of would-be migrants to Italy, that have died during their travels. It is not certain the number of migrants that have died in the past 20 years of this escalation in illegal immigration, but some estimated that as many as 12,000 may have perished in the journey. Most of the migrants trying to reach Italy come by way of North Africa, hoping to seek a better life in Italy. The Italian office of the UNHCR, the Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the southern Italian regions of Puglia and Sicily will sponsor the memorial in Lampedusa.

Arabic version of constitution to aid immigrants

The Catholic charity ‘Caritas’ has plans to present an Arabic translation of the Italian constitution, in a bid to help immigrants integrate in Southern Italian towns. Caritas has plans to distribute the translated constitution to office, schools, and public abodes in the city of Agrigento, in southern Sicily. “Immigrants are welcome in our country, but they have a duty to respect Italian laws. We have translated the constitution to increase immigrants’ awareness of the laws that govern civic life in Italy,” said local Caritas’ director, Vito Scilabra.

Wave of illegal immigrants reaches Sicily

Several recent incidents of illegal migration in just a couple of days sparked concern among Sicilian officials. A six-meter boat carrying 31 migrants arrived at the port of Lampedusa, and others were found on one of the Pelagie islands near Lampedusa in a small wooden boat. In a separate incident just a day later, 106 immigrants also arrived at the same port. taly has the European Union’s longest coastline – 4500 kilometers – making it a favorable destination for migrants, and also difficult to police.