Italian law enforcement officials have developed a new strategy to prevent the radicalization of Italian muslims — sending approved Imams to teach in prisons.
Italy has yet to suffer a high profile Islamic terrorist attack like those seen in France, Belgium, the U.K., the Netherlands, and Germany, despite having no shortage of Muslim immigrants. How has Italy staved off such a threat? The answer is due in part to Italy’s policy of arresting and deporting suspected extremists, but also to their newer strategies of prevention, according to a Wednesday report by the Associated Press.
Government vetted imams, confirmed to teach “moderate” views with a message of respect for the West and for non-muslims, have been sent to teach in prisons in an effort to prevent Italian prisons from becoming hotbeds for the indoctrination and training of radicals. So far, 13 imams have been approved for this work in eight prisons.
El Hachmi Mimoun is one such Imam and has met weekly with a group of seven muslim inmates at Terni Penitentiary, urging them to keep to the “right path” of a peaceful life. One of the seven, a 35 year old Tunisian inmate, said Mimoun’s visits have helped him do just that.
“If I am praying, I am not cooking up ideas to harm others on the outside,” the inmate told AP.
The prevention effort began in February with a recruitment agreement between the Italian government and the Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy (UCOII). Izzeddin Elzir, UCOII president, said the union seeks to cultivate Islamic pluralism in the country.