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Venice Meeting Seeks Ways to Combat Islamic Terrorists


Interior ministers of the G-6 countries met in Venice Saturday at a summit in which they discussed how to harmonize measures to combat international terrorism. Also attending the meeting was U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and the EU Commissioner for Freedom, Security and Justice, Franco Frattini. Sabina Castelfranco reports for VOA from Venice.

At the second and final day of the summit of G-6 countries - France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Spain and Britain - the interior ministers focused on how to combat Islamic radicalization and recruitment in their countries.

Interior Minister Giuliano Amato, who chaired the summit, expressed concern that mosques, instead of being places of worship, are often used for other activities.

The ministers also discussed plans by the European Commission to gather more information about radical Islamic preachers, or imams, in Europe, including the mosques where they speak. EU Freedom, Security and Justice Minister Franco Frattini said a meeting would be held in the autumn to make this information available to member nations.

One of the aspects of this European mapping will involve the role of imams, their level of training, their ability to understand and express themselves in the language of the country where they preach and the flows of funds that reach mosques.

Frattini added that there is also a need to increase dialogue with Islamic communities within E.U. countries. He said that he and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso would meet next week in Brussels with leaders of different religious communities.

One of the purposes of this inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, Frattini says, will be to avoid sending messages that incite hatred and violence.

Italian interior minister Amato said terrorism has shown that it has not chosen a single enemy but is opportunistic, finding targets wherever a network is operating.

Amato said this is an issue that involves moderate and modern Islam on one side and fanatical and conservative Islam on the other. And this conflict within Islam, he added, has now been extended to the EU. Terrorist networks, he said, sometimes use one EU country as base to prepare an attack on another EU country.

Amato concluded that these organizations have a network and the West also needs to create a legal network to combat them.

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