Italy: Immigrant Muslim Leader Slams Polygamy Appeal

ADN Kronos International, January 23, 2007

Souad Sbai, a leading member of Italy’s government-appointed body on Muslim affairs, the Consulta, slammed on Monday a controversial appeal launched the previous day by a representative of Italy’s largest Islamic group to make poligamy legal. “I am worried and concerned about the plea made last night,” said Sbai of the call made to the government on state television by Mohamed Baha’ el-Din Ghrewati, a former imam in Milan with the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII), to legalise a practice today banned in Italy so as to ensure, he said, that the rights of women living in poligamous families are protected.

“I am concerned that it is possible to make through a national broadcaster the apology of this practice as happened yesterday,” said Sbai, who also heads the national association representing Moroccan women in Italy.

Sbai also said she means to place poligamy at the top of the agenda of an upcoming meeting of the Consulta.

Earlier this month Italy’s main paper Corriere della Sera published a front page article in which a woman accused the leader of UCOII Hamza Piccardo of having married her as his second wife in a religious ceremony at a mosque in the northern city of Verona.

Though a Muslim religious ceremony would not be recognised in Italy without a civil wedding, Corriere’s report sparked a controversy as UCOII and other Muslim groups had publicly condemned poligamy.

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