News / Europe

    Muslim Leader Proposing Mosque in Florence, Italy

    Sabina Castelfranco

    As the number of Muslims in Italy continues to rise, there are growing calls for places of prayer for their communities. In Florence, a Muslim leader is presenting plans for a mosque in the style of the city's classic architecture. In Milan, a Catholic archbishop has added his voice for the right of Muslims to have a place of worship.

    Muslims around the world are holding their Friday prayers, the first now that their Holy Month of Ramadan has come to an end. In Italy, as the number of Muslims  continues to rise with growing immigration, Muslims are wanting their own places of prayer close to where they live and work.

    In Florence a Muslim leader has announced that he will present plans to authorities in the coming weeks to build a mosque with minarets that resemble the cathedral tower designed by the Italian Renaissance artist Giotto. The local imam Izzedin Elzir says that Islamic history shows that Muslims seek to embrace the architecture of the places where they go.

    The exterior of the mosque has been designed with bands of green and white marble, similar to many of the city's landmark churches and buildings. There have been several positive reactions to the plans, including messages of support from local Christian communities.

    But local leaders of the anti-immigrant Northern League oppose the proposal, describing the construction of mosques as a destabilizing force in society. Some have suggested that a referendum should be held on its construction.

    Meanwhile in the northern Italian city of Milan a debate has resurfaced on the failure of the city authorities to allow the construction of a mosque for the thousands of Muslims who live in and around the city.

    The Archbishop of Milan, Dionigi Tettamanzi, urged city authorities to give the green light for the construction of a mosque in the city. He said the city's institutions must guarantee religious freedom to all and that Muslims also have the right to practice their faith.

    But Milan administrators do not appear willing to listen. Matteo Salvini is a Northern League deputy at the European parliament.

    He said the League's position is that a mosque in Milan is not a priority for the city authorities. He adds that at present there are no trustworthy and credible Muslim representatives in the city with whom to hold a dialogue. Therefore a mosque for Milan is the least of the issues.

    Abdel Hamid Shari runs the Islamic Culture Center in Milan's Viale Jenner, which previously had a mosque linked to it. In the past, hundreds used to pray out in the street as well but the government put an end to that practice two years ago. They closed the mosque saying it was a question of public order. The mosque was also described by authorities as "a haven for terrorists" when a number of Muslims who prayed there were arrested for illegal activities linked to terrorism. Now Muslims are praying inside the unauthorized mosque again which is inside a makeshift garage.

    And, Shari says, there are many others like that in the city. "These are places that were not for prayers. They were warehouses, garages, under ground areas. We adapted them for our needs. They are certainly not adequate for prayers," he said.

    One hundred thousand Muslims live in Milan. Northern League deputy Salvini says only a small minority of these actually pray.

    He says Muslims have plenty of places to pray and those who are serious about their prayers are a very small number, less than five percent. He insists that the problem of building a new large mosque in Milan is completely irrelevant both for the people from Milan and for the Islamic community.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.