Culture And Media
Italy: Minister is ‘not a mosque builder’
Milan, 6 Sept. (AKI) – Italy’s interior minister brushed off the possibility of his government helping Milan’s muslim community replace a mosque that was recently closed to keep the “public order.”
“I’m an interior minister, not a mosque builder,” Roberto Maroni (photo) told reporters on Sunday.
Following the recent closing of Milan’s biggest mosque, Milan’s archbishop Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi called for more tolerance from the city’s municipal government toward the Muslim community.
“Milan’s civic institutions must guarantee everybody the freedom of religion and the right to worship,” Tettamanzi told Italian newspaper La Repubblica in an interview published on Saturday.
Authorities in Milan couched the reason for recent closing of the city’s mosque as a security issue because its small size could not accommodate all the faithful during Friday prayers. Crowds every week would spill out on to the street.
“We’ve already solved the problem of the mosque,” Maroni said. “It was a problem of public order and we solved it.”
Maroni’s xenophobic Northern League party has been vocal in its opposition to mosques. Among its anti-Muslim moves was to parade a pig over land where a mosque was slated to be constructed.
Milan has 208,021 immigrants making up 16 percent of its population – more than double the national average of 6.5 percent, a Milan city council report said earlier this month.