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ISLAM

Italy aims to integrate Muslims and shape ‘Italian Islam’

Italy's Interior Minister Angelino Alfano on Tuesday established a council for relations with the country's Muslims, an advisory body the government hopes will help the minority to better integrate.

Italy aims to integrate Muslims and shape 'Italian Islam'
People pray during a celebration of Eid al-Fitr marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan in a gymnasium in Saluzzo, near Turin in July last year. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

The council, made up of academics and experts in Islamic culture and religion, will be tasked with coming up with proposals and recommendations on integration issues based on “respect and cooperation”, the ministry said in a statement.

Alfano said he wanted “a community with all those who – while from different countries, cultures, religions and traditions – intend to contribute to the peaceful development and prosperity of our country, in full compliance with our laws and our Christian and humanistic tradition.”

The body will keep the government in the loop on Islamic issues in Italy and help shape “Italian Islam,” the statement added.

Experts put the number of Muslims in Italy at over one million, most of whom are immigrants, plus a small number of converts.

Some of those converts are already striving to better integrate Muslims, with an Italian businessman talking to The Local last year about his challenges in trying to create what would be Europe’s first Islamic University in Lecce, a city in the heart of Puglia’s Salento region.

Read more: How Islamic college plan has split Italian town

Alfano, head of the New Centre Right (NCD) party, sparked controversy following the deadly attacks in Paris last November by saying the government would crack down on illegal Muslim places of worship in the fight against terrorism.

Such places are often set up because Muslim communities find it exceptionally difficult to establish authorised places of worship in Italy, a country with only four official mosques.

ITALY

Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.


Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?

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