Islam second largest religion in Italy but unrepresented

UCOII chief notes Muslims account for 4-5% of GDP

11 February, 19:05

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, FEBRUARY 11 - Islam is the second largest religion in Italy but has no nationally recognized representation. Dialogue with the Italian State is flagging as well, according to a conference on Muslims in Italy held on Tuesday in Rome.

    The conference was held at the Niccolò Cusano University. Figures from the national statistics agency ''Istat tell us that there are currently about 1,700,000 Muslims in Italy,'' said Izzedin Elzir, Florence imam and head of the Muslim umbrella group Unione delle Comunità e Organizzazioni Islamiche in Italia (UCOII). ''There are over 700 mosques. Muslims account for 4-5% of national GDP. In other words,'' Elzir continued, ''Islam constitutes added value for Italy. And yet, despite the fact that freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution, the absence of a resulting law had led to the Muslim community's de facto not being recognized by the Italian State, with which there is no agreement'', in the likes of those regulating relations between Italian institutions and religions other than Catholicism (with which relations were set down in the Concordat). With other minority religions - such as Judaism and Buddhism - an agreement was established long ago. ''The problem of a lack of representation is a concrete one, not only an official one,'' noted Agostino Cilardo, expert in Islamic law at the Naples Orientale University. ''When you draw up an agreement, the counterpart is a unified organization. But who can speak on behalf of Muslims in Italy,'' he said.

    (ANSAmed).

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