Italian Muslims Survive “Hate Fits’’ in 2004

Tamer Abul Einein, IslamOnline.net, Dec. 28

Despite right-wingers and xenophobes, the year

2004 can be dubbed as the “year of integration” for the Muslim community

in Italy, though they desperately need a recognized union to unite their efforts

against daunting challenges ahead.

It is also partly thanks to several positive stances

taken by the Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi, who has been keen on making

no room for religious discrimination or bigotry, in addition to encouraging

the Muslim integration into society as the best way to nib “radicalism”

in the bud.

The teaching of Islam in state-run schools has

been a welcome addition that gave the country a bit more atmosphere.

Hijab is in no way an odd thing to wear on the

streets of Italy, unlike many other European countries, France in particular.

Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu always cites

the story of his veiled mother, who insisted on taking on the headscarf till

her death, when the issue of hijab-donned Muslim women is raised.

More and more, the number of mosques in the capital

Rome has risen to some 400 in 2004 and halal slaughterhouses and restaurants

have increased across the Catholic country.

Islam, however, has not been yet recognized as

one of the official religions like Judaism and Buddhism.

Zero Tolerance

The grand mosque in Rome.

The government, on the other hand, adopted a zero

tolerance with imams it dubs “radical”, deporting those who it regards

a mouthpiece of violence or religious hatred.

Senegalese-born imam Abdel Qadir Fadlallah Mamour

had been deported “for disturbing public order and being a “danger

to state security” after expecting attacks on Italian troops serving in

Iraq.

On December 12, an Italian court has invalidated

the “illegal” deportation of Mamour, saying his statements merely

represented personal views

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