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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora