Italy’s imams ‘ignorant’

SHAFAQNA – Tasked with reorganizing Italy’s Muslim community, World Muslim League new president in Italy, Fareed Alkhotani, called the community “the worst” in Europe for dialogue and inclusion, telling reporters the Italian Muslim community is completely ignorant of the Koran, not able to integrate into Italian society, closed in a way apart and led by ignorant Imams, unable to prevent and combat Al Qaeda or Isis terrorist ideas.

Alkhotani said, “Muslims in Italy do not have a thorough understanding of the Islamic religion and are not able to dialogue with the national government, as opposed to what they do communities in Austria, Belgium, France and Germany”.

Italy’s approximately 1.7 millions Muslims are divided into two thousand mosques, associations, cultural centers that often go in separate directions. According to the World Muslim League, the Arab minority in Italy has the worst relationship in Europe in regard to faith and residence country.

Alkhotani listed three reasons for the lack of relationship as “absolute ignorance of the Koran” especially among young people; Muslims are socially on the lower rangs with low paid jobs and “do not have the cultural tools to fit”, and they “buil parallel, closed societies by nationality of origin”. Subsequently, “dialogue is prevented” and provokes “the lack of recognition of the Muslim community by Italian authorities, despite the requests of certain Islamic organizations, such as Ucoii, Coreis, Maghreb federation”.

“If you want to have a serious conversation”, the World Muslim League president said, “they must on take the values of Italian citizenship, confront themselves with democratic principles of the host nation”, adding that “it is not acceptable to have mosques, associations, places of worship linked to the countries of origin and not to the rules and problems of Italian society. Small or large, the Muslim minority has to be part of Italy.” In recent months, Alkhotani has visited almost all Muslim places of worship in Italy. “Apart from the Albanians, most of the imams do not know their job, they never made precise studies”, Alkhotani said. “They do not openly invite to go fight with Isis, but make sermons suitable for a poor district of Cairo, not for people who live in Europe”. They create, indirectly, a culture broth for extremism. Terrorism can be avoided “preaching good” true Islam and its teachings of peace and tolerance that ISIS militias “trample in all their actions.” Alkhotani said that up until now, not many from Italy have left to join the caliphate, but “for us they are still too many”.

A separate conversation was made in regard to Rome mosque, led by an Egyptian imam, who “did not perform its role of connection between Muslims and Italian society and has not been able to promote religious dialogue”.

The Islamic cultural center, directed by a Moroccan, “is not used, while the gardens and the magnificent library” are not even open to visits by Italians.

The project of the Muslim World League is to reorganize in entirety on the basis of regional councils and elected representative in Muslim communities and a national council elected by regional representatives. For now, only 250 associations of two thousand are participating.

“It will be a long process, it will take about ten years”, Alkhotani said.

The Muslim World League, founded 52 years ago by a Saudi initiative, collects the ulema, or body of scholars, from dozens of Muslim countries, including Iran, and has among its objectives to inspire Islam-Islam dialogue and dialogue between Islam and other religions. The league, which has its headquarters in Mecca, finances, by statute, Rome’s mosque and cultural center.

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