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Islam in Italy: a National Agreement to promote integration and combat extremism

Yesterday the representatives of Islamic associations and communities and of the Italian Ministry of Interior jointly signed a “National agreement for an Italian Islam.” The purpose of the 20-point Agreement is to prevent the risk of a “do-it-yourself” Islam and to further social cohesion and integration. The document was signed by national delegates of Islamic associations representing 70% of the Muslim population in Italy. Interior Minister Marco Minniti described the accord as an “extraordinary investment for the future of our Country.”

A “National Agreement for an Italian Islam”: a 20-point document to prevent the danger of a “do-it-yourself Islam”, to advance social cohesion and integration in Italy, and to combat all forms of radicalism, was signed yesterday at the seat of Italy’s Ministry of Interior – the Viminale Hill – by representatives of Islamic associations and communities and by the Ministry of Interior.

10 points of the document refer to the responsibilities of Islamic communities present in our Country. In the Document the representatives of Islamic centres and places of worship pledge to combat “the phenomena of religious radicalism” and to “communicate the names and addresses of Imams and religious leaders.” The Agreement envisages also formation courses for Imams and the assurance to deliver the Friday sermon in Italian language, “notwithstanding the original ritual forms in the celebration of the rite.” Islamic communities are equally requested

“utmost transparency in the management and documentation of funds received in Italy and abroad, destined to the building of mosques and places of worship.”

In the 10-point chapter involving the Ministry of Interior the latter pledges its “support and promotion, in cooperation with Islamic associations”, “to enhance the spiritual, cultural and social patrimony offered by Muslim communities in the Country, to foster paths of integration for Muslim immigrants; to counter radicalism and religious fanaticism.” Related projects include the distribution of

multi-language information kits on the rules and principles enshrined in the national legislation along with the norms regulating freedom of religion and worship.”

In presenting the document to the press, the Minister of Interior Minniti said: “this is an important day, a useful passage for the present and the future of our Country through interreligious dialogue.” “Members of different religions can profess their faith while being Italian citizens”, the Minister pointed out, adding that the pre-requisite for the achievement of this goal is

“to repudiate all forms of violence and terrorism.”

paolo naso

Paolo Naso is the Coordinator of the Council for Relations with Islam in Italy who worked in conjunction with the Ministry in the compilation of the document.. It was a long process, especially in its final chapter, but the goal has been finally reached. “For the first time ever we stand before a self-certification of Italian Muslims coupled by the commitment of national institutions and of the Ministry of Interior. It is a deal between two players who pledge to take action together. It’s an unprecedented event, an extremely positive step”, he said.

The goal of the initiative is “to strengthen integration and social cohesion policies to provide an Italian answer to the climate of Islamophobia and prejudice that is spreading throughout Europe and across the United States.”

In adherence with Constitutional norms and regulations, this process could pave the way for an agreement with Islam in Italy, in the belief that the path of transparency and dialogue is the only feasible option, because the opposite course entails complete lack of control on the one side and of responsibility on the other. “Today’s agreement – Naso said in his closing remarks – is an investment for the future. From now on Italian Muslim communities are the protagonists of an avenue of transparency, dialogue, social cohesion, aimed at countering radical Islamism. We are not only reaffirming a principle; we are also saying that Islamic communities can become significant bearers of integration and social cohesion policies.”


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