Italy’s Mosque Wars

Source: SOEREN KERN, Right Side News.

The southern Italian island of Sicily is about to become the proud new owner of a multi-million euro mega-mosque.

The mosque, to be built in the medieval town of Salemi in southwestern Sicily, is being paid for by the oil-rich Persian Gulf Emirate of Qatar. Supporters of the mosque hope it will become a reference point for Muslims in Sicily as well as the rest of Italy.

Construction of the mosque reflects the growing influence of Islam in Italy, which is now home to an estimated 1.5 million Muslims.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the mayor of Salemi, Vittorio Sgarbi, said: “Sicily is excited about hosting Islam. Nothing is more important than finding common feelings and beliefs in the different religions that believe in a single God. This is one of the reasons that, just as our cities have Christian places of worship, I think it is important for a mosque to be built in Salemi for citizens of Arab culture and language. History imposes it upon us.”

Sicily is, of course, a highly symbolic location for Italy’s multiculturalists, who often tout the island as the quintessential interfaith utopia. Never mind that Christians and Jews were famously persecuted during the two centuries that Sicily was dominated by Muslim rule.

The Muslim occupation of Sicily came to an end in 1222, when the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II de-Islamicized the island in response to an ill-conceived revolt by Ibn Ibbad, the last Emir of Sicily.

Muslims began returning en masse in the 1970s, thanks to immigration from North Africa and the Middle East. They also began building mosques.

In 1980, Catania, a city on the eastern coast of Sicily, became home to Italy’s first modern mosque. Also known as the Omar mosque, the mosque in Catania was financed by Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

The Catania mosque was followed by the mosque in Segrate near Milan (1988), and run by the Muslim brotherhood. This was followed by the mega-mosque in Rome (1994), financed by Saudi Arabia.

The Mosque of Rome, which can accommodate more than 12,000 people, is one of the largest mosques in Europe. The imam of the mosque, an Egyptian Islamist unable to speak Italian, was suspended after preaching Jihad to Rome’s 90,000 Muslims.

Fast forward to 2012: there are now an estimated 500 mosques in Italy, not to mention thousands of informal Islamic prayer centers and Koranic schools, most of which are housed in basements, garages and warehouses.

Many of the mosque projects in Italy have been promoted by leftwing politicians, who are waging an ideological war with the Roman Catholic Church. As in many other European countries, multiculturalists in Italy hope that by promoting Islam, they will eventually succeed in destroying the country’s Judeo-Christian heritage.

Not surprisingly, most Italians are opposed to the idea of turning Italy into an Islamic republic. Polls show that many Italians view mosques as a “symbol of occupation” and more than a third do not want a mosque in their neighborhood.

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3 replies

  1. Another report:

    OnIslam & News Agencies
    Monday, 30 January 2012 15:50

    The southern Italian island of Sicily will build a grand mosque to help Muslims perform their prayers
    CAIRO – Fulfilling the religious needs of its Muslim minority, the southern Italian island of Sicily will build a grand mosque to help Muslims perform their prayers.

    “Sicily is enthusiastic about hosting Islam,” Mayor Vittorio Sgarbi said, ANSA news agency reported Monday, January 30.

    The mayor said an area will be allocated in Salemi town in south-western Sicily to build the mosque.

    The construction of the Muslim worship place will be funded by the tiny Gulf state of Qatar.

    “Nothing is more important than finding common sentiments and convictions in the different religions that consider a single God,” said Sgarbi.

    “This is one of the reasons that just as our cities have Christian places of worship, I think it is important for a mosque to be built in Salemi for citizens of Arab culture and language. History imposes it upon us.”

    Italy has a Muslim population of some 1.2 million, including 20,000 reverts, according to unofficial estimates.

    For years, Muslims have been using gyms and football pitches waiting for a definitive solution.

    Dozens of Muslims pray on the paving outside the small scattered mosques.

    Building mosques in Italy was an almost “mission impossible” under former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government and his ally the Northern League.

    Portraying itself as a defender of Italy’s Christian roots, the League started its mission in the new government in May 2008 with bringing down a mosque in the northern city of Verona.

    In 2008, the League rejoiced the success of its campaign to halt the building of a mosque in the northern city of Bologna.

    The same year, League MP Mario Borghezio burst into a church in the northern city of Genoa shouting anti-Islam statements

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