Italy's imams to get training on the Constitution

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Italy's imams to get training on the Constitution

A training course starting soon in northern Italy will teach imams and other religious leaders the workings of the Italian Constitution as part of efforts to improve integration in the country.


The course is aimed at non-Catholic religious leaders who come from non-EU countries but plan to work in Italy.

"The aim is to create a climate of tolerance through the teaching of the rights and duties inherent in our democratic societies," Bologna University's Religious Law professor Frederica Botti, who has co-ordinated the course, told La Repubblica.

Participants will learn about Italy's constitutional principles including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to have a place of worship and practise religion.

READ MORE: How Italy plans to integrate Muslims and shape an 'Italian Islam'

They will therefore gain practical knowledge, such as learning the process for setting up a new place of worship, as well as dealing with broader themes such as tolerance and respect for other beliefs.

Islam is the only major religion that does not have official status in Italy, despite the country being home to an estimated one million Muslims.

The closure of several unofficial mosques, along with regional attempts to restrict the building of new ones, has been met with peaceful protest.

The first lessons of the legal course will take place in February, at the Law campus of Bologna University in the neighbouring town of Ravenna. Ravenna is home to the only official mosque in the northern Emilia Romagna region.

But the city is central to the integration debate for another reason: several people suspected of sympathies and links to terrorist organizations have been expelled from Italy, including one last week. In total, Italy has deported 134 people for suspected extremism since the start of 2015, including twelve imams.

The new courses are part of a €90,000 plan from the Interior Ministry to improve integration of Muslims in Italy. The government hopes to create better dialogue between religions and cultures and avoid the kind of marginalization which can lead to radicalization.

The constitution classes will be taught at six universities, with Calabria, Salerno, Bari, Pisa and Florence taking part alongside Bologna.

READ ALSO: Italians overestimate country's Muslim population by 500 percent

Italians overestimate country's Muslim population by 500 percent

Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP



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