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Italy creating 'Italian Islam' by making new religion in line with 'Christian tradition'

The interior minister announced the creation of an official 'Council of Relations with Italian Islam'

Lizzie Dearden
Friday 22 January 2016 16:21 GMT
The move comes after the interior minister controversially vowed to crack down on terrorism by closing unauthorised mosques
The move comes after the interior minister controversially vowed to crack down on terrorism by closing unauthorised mosques (AFP/Getty Images)

Italy is setting up a council of “Italian Islam” that claims to be bringing the religion into compliance with the country’s “Christian and humanist tradition”.

The reason for the controversial creation was not made clear in a statement by interior minister Angelino Alfano, although he did say provinces “concerned with immigration” would be involved.

Announcing the move on Tuesday, he said the Council of Relations with Italian Islam would be an advisory body aiming at furthering integration.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Italian Islam would be 'law abiding' (Getty Images)

“The Council will be responsible for providing opinions and making proposals on issues concerning the integration of people of Islamic culture and religion in Italy,” Mr Alfano said.

“Respect and co-operation between cultural and religious identities in Italy must constitute the basis for a dialogue that enriches democracy, promoting the aims of peace, social cohesion and unity, and that fosters a community of those who…intend to contribute to the peaceful development and prosperity of our country, in full compliance with our laws and our Christian and humanist tradition.”

The Interior Ministry said Islamic leaders, experts and professors would be working towards “the formation of an Italian Islam”.

2,000 boat migrants brought to Sicily

A spokesperson said the religion would be “law-abiding and compatible with Italian regulations”, without saying what rules, if any, Muslims were currently believed to be breaking in the country.

It comes as migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East continue to arrive on Italy’s shores, mainly on the southern island of Sicily.

More than 320,000 asylum seekers have arrived in the past two years, mainly on rescue ships deployed by a Europe-wide mission in response to successive boat disasters that have killed thousands of men, women and children.

Mr Alfano said local authorities and immigration councils would be consulted alongside Muslim leaders to improve social inclusion, taking into account the principles of the Constitutions and laws of the Republic”.

The minister, head of the New Centre Right (NCD) party, sparked outrage in the wake of the Paris attacks by saying the government would crack down on unauthorised mosques in the fight against “terrorism”.

The Local reported that they are often set up because Italian law makes it “exceptionally difficult” to create new places of worship in Italy, which has only four official mosques.

Mr Alfano has previously drawn controversy over his appearance at a Mafia-linked wedding and statements on issues including same-sex marriage.

Earlier this month, he called for couples who use have children using surrogates to be treated like sex offenders and jailed.

He called surrogacy “the most vile, illegal trade that man has invented” and said he would campaign for it to become a “universal crime”.

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