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Turin Muslims Part of Olympic Experience

As in many parts of the world, the controversy over recent cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad has reached Italy. An Italian cabinet minister resigned after angering Muslims by wearing a T-shirt decorated with the controversial cartoons. In response, protesters in Libya burned an Italian consulate, and 10 of them were killed by police.

But in Turin, Italy, the site of the Winter Olympics, there have been no demonstrations. As one Islamic leader tells VOA's Brian Padden, that is because the Muslim community in Turin wants the Olympics to succeed.

Many Muslims immigrants in Turin, Italy live and work in the city center close to some of the Olympic venues. Like Muslims around the world, they are upset and angry over the controversial cartoons using the image of the Prophet Mohammed.

But Sayid Sadek, a leader of the Islamic Institute of Turin, says Muslims in Turin do not want to disrupt the Olympic games. "Because here we are [have] the opportunity of the Olympic games and we have to participate to make that, I think.… This is the face of Italy and people from all over the world watch Italy. And I think that Italy has not participated in the problem, so we are not here looking for problems but we are seeking to resolve problems."

Mr. Sadek says Muslims in Turin are also Italians and have themselves been part of the Olympics; leading prayer services for Muslim athletes living in the Olympic villages.

"We have places of prayer that the Olympic committee has given to our community, to give the Muslims the opportunity to meet the Muslims, the players from other countries."

For now, Mr. Sadek says it is more important for the Muslims in Turin to demonstrate the Olympic ideals of peace and tolerance.