ROME - Paying tributes to his role in promoting inter-faith dialogue, Italy's Jews have mourned a leading Muslim leader, who passed away earlier this week.
"A sincere friend with whom we shared genuine dialogue initiatives has left us," Riccardo Pacifici, president of the Rome Jewish community, was quoted as saying by JTA News.
"Even in moments of tension, he (Mario Scialoja) always demonstrated he knew how to maintain the level of dialogue and respect."
Scialoja, a Muslim convert and a retired Italian diplomat, passed away on Monday, July 24, in Rome at the age of 82.
Born in 1930, Scialoja reverted to Islam in 1988 when he was Italy's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations.
As he retired in 1996 after serving as Italy's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Scialoja dedicated his life to serving the Muslim minority in Italy.
In 1998, Scialoja opened a branch of the Makkah-based Muslim World League in Rome.
From 1998 to 2006, he served as the vice-president of the Muslim World's League's branch in Italy.
He also served as a member of the consultative commission on Italy's Muslims in the interior ministry.
Scialoja also served as a counselor at the Administration of the Islamic Cultural Center of Italy, the only recognized Muslim institution in the southern European country.
Scialoja was credited for his efforts to promote dialogue between followers of different religions in Italy.Italy has a Muslim population of some 1.2 million, including 20,000 reverts, according to unofficial estimates.