Italy: Muslims protest mosque moratorium
Italy's Interior Minister Roberto Maroni of the anti-immigrant Northern League met with protests after proposing a moratorium on the building of mosques in the wake of arrests on Dec. 2 of two Moroccans suspected of plotting terrorist attacks—one of whom was a preacher at an "unofficial" Milan mosque. The left-wing opposition and Italian Muslim leaders criticized the proposed legislation, which would halt the building of mosques without state oversight. A high-ranking Vatican official, Msgr. Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said he was in favor of allowing new mosques provided the state could ensure they would be used for religious purposes.
"Rome's Grand Mosque is the only official mosque in Italy, so a moratorium on the construction of future mosques is futile," said the Association of Muslim Intellectuals in Italy's president, Gianpiero Vincenzo. "It is far more important to regulate the various 'cultural centres' where Muslims in Italy have to gather for prayers because there are no more suitable venues," said Vincenzo. (AKI, NYT, Dec. 4)
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