The Italian Islamic community has taken a step forward in organizing its presence on a national level. This move will allow it to pursue a dialogue with the State and work towards signing a national accord.
After a long planning period, the first Italian Islamic Confederation is born, unifying 250 mosques all over the nation and who have chosen to share common values. The Italian Islamic Culture Centre and great mosque of Rome, under the direction of its Secretary General Abdellah Redouane, have wanted and worked on this project since 2009.
A congress held in the capital yesterday inaugurated the Confederation, during which the new union established a governing council and elected its president, the Moroccan Fihri Wahid.
"This is an historic achievement" the Moroccan ambassador, Hassan Abouyoub said. "It will finally allow the Islamic population in Italy to have a new voice."
The diplomat added that the mosques which take part in this Confederation "respect a moderate Islam". Staying out of the confederation are the organizations which are part of the Union of Communities and Islamic Organizations in Italy (Ucoii), which has often in the spotlight due to their more "radical" positions.
The move has been welcomed by Italy's other religious communities. The president of the Italian Jewish Union of Communities, Renzo Gattegna, attended the inaugural congress. Greetings sent by the President of the European Union of Islamic Ulema, Sheik Mohammed Tughani together with those from the President of the Pontifical Council for inter-religious dialogue of the Vatican, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.
The organization is born from the union of a series of regional federations of mosques whose work began over a year ago with the local congresses in Milan, Turin, Bologna, Brescia and Perugia.
The importance of this new organization is based mainly on the values it promotes, values which were inserted into a document, in line with the "Values, Citizenship and Integration Document" promoted by the Ministry of the Interior in 2007.
It includes the "promotion and defence of the rights of Muslim women in Italy", and the "respect of the holiness of life". It also declares the "rejection of every form of violence", and "respect for the principles of moderation, tolerance and respect towards others". The main goal of this document is that of "allowing the harmonization of the Islamic community with its other components".
Another important aspect, say the founders of the confederation, is "creating the best conditions in order to guarantee dignity and freedom of worship, underlining the importance that places of worship reflect the creative genius and the splendour of Italian culture towards the prospect of integration and dialogue with the other religions present in the country".
Among the new aspects of this Confederation is the broad representation of the imams, which is quite a complex issue that up until now has never really solved by the Italian Islamic community, contrary to other European Muslim communities, like the French. Other than President Wahid, who comes from the ethnically Moroccan community in Bologna, the head council is composed of 16 people, of which a number young men and women are members.
Source: "Islam: Italian Islamic Federation born. 250 mosques united" ANSAmed March 22, 2012
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today