The Ca’ Foscari professor of Arabic Studies Ida Zilio Grandi is amongst the council of experts that have contributed to the National Pact for an Italian Islam. The document was signed on 1st February at the Ministry of Internal Affairs by the Home Secretary Marco Minniti, and by the most representative Muslim associations in Italy.
“The sentiment of the document is that you can have different religions, and profess to be of a different religion, whilst still being completely Italian” Minniti underlines in a statement posted on the Ministry’s website.“In fact, the document refers explicitly to our Constitution, and even the ‘strong values’ that everyone – the State and the Islamic Community – can work together to defend.”
Among the crucial points of the Pact there is in fact the principle of freedom of worship, “an inalienable value, a fundamental point that makes a democracy a democracy and a civilization a civilization. A well integrated society is a secure society.”
Amongst the board there are some experts, including Professor Zilio Grandi, responsible for the Council for Italian Islam nominated in 2015 by the previous Home Secretary, Minister Alfano, and representatives of the major Italian Islamic organizations that represent 70% of the Muslim residents in Italy.
“This signature represents a guarantee of greater security for all” explained the Ca’ Foscari academic. “Italy already has agreements with other religions but yet none with Islam, the second religion of Italy. The minister spoke of Italian Islam, not of Islam of Italy or Islam in Italy – confirming the fact that in Italy the integration with the Muslim population is more widespread and deep-rooted than in other European and Western countries in general. It is also noted that conversion, an ever-growing phenomenon for Italy, acts as a ‘buffer’ against infiltrations that – as we well know – could be very dangerous.”
The measures agreed in the pact include, for example: the promotion of training for Imams to avoid the danger of self-professed Imams; the opening of places of worship to non-Muslims; transparency of the names of the Imams and translation of their sermons into Italian, and the transparency of financing regarding the construction of mosques in Italy.
The question of the relationship between Islam and Italy is highly topical. Venice made the front pages of the international press in the latest edition of Biennale d’Arte, when the Swiss artist Christoph Büchel recreated the interior of the Church of Saint Mary of Mercy – which had been deconsecrated and spent the past 40 years as private access – as a mosque.
“It seemed only fair that, like for worshippers in other religions, there is also an adequate place of worship for Muslims in the Venice area”, affirmed Professor Zilio Grandi. “A place that is esthetically pleasing, fitting perfectly with the features of a city of art like Venice.”