ROME - Joining hands to speak in one voice in the southern European country, leaders of mosques following the Maliki school of Fiqh (jurisprudence) in Italy have formed an umbrella council.
It happens to be an historic achievement Moroccan ambassador in Rome Hassan Abouyoub told the ANSA news agency.
It will finally allow the Islamic population in Italy to have a new voice.
Some 250 mosques in Italy have united in one confederation to speak in one voice in the European country.
The mosques which take part in this Confederation are only of Maliki tradition, who respect a moderate Islam, said Abouyoub.
The confederation, which was unveiled earlier last week, was the fruit of planning over the past years among regional federations of mosques and local congresses in Milan, Turin, Bologna, Brescia and Perugia.
Staying out of the confederation are the organizations which are part of the Union of communities and Islamic organizations in Italy (Ucoii).
Founders say the new umbrella body aims to promote the values of citizenship and integration among Italian Muslims.
They say the body is also meant to defend the rights of Muslim women in Italy and respect the principles of moderation, tolerance and respect towards others.
Another important aspect 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 splendor of Italian culture towards the prospect of integration and dialogue with the other religions present in the country, they say.
Italy has a Muslim population of some 1.2 million, including 20,000 reverts, according to unofficial estimates.
For years, Muslims have been using gyms and football pitches waiting for a definitive solution.
Dozens of Muslims pray on the paving outside the small scattered mosques.
Building mosques in Italy was an almost mission impossible under former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's government and his ally the Northern League.
Portraying itself as a defender of Italy's Christian roots, the League started its mission in the new government in May 2008 with bringing down a mosque in the northern city of Verona.
In 2008, the League rejoiced the success of its campaign to halt the building of a mosque in the northern city of Bologna.The same year, League MP Mario Borghezio burst into a church in the northern city of Genoa shouting anti-Islam statements.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net