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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid