Italy: "Mosques Springing Up like Mushrooms"
by Soeren Kern
April 2, 2012 at 5:00 am
April 2, 2012 at 5:00 am
Donors are using alternative channels to ensure that their donations escape the control of the regular financial system.More than 250 mosques across Italy have reached an agreement to create a new umbrella organization, the Italian Islamic Confederation (CII).
The CII will be controlled by Morocco, and will compete with an existing Muslim umbrella organization, the Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy (UCOII).
The UCOII, which is estimated to control 60% of the mosques in Italy, is closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Since its founding in 1990, the UCOII has used its virtual monopoly over the mosques in Italy to spread its Islamist ideology over the 1.5 million Muslims in the country. The UCOII has also worked to become the main interlocutor between the Muslim community and the Italian state.
But the Italian government has ruled out reaching an agreement with the UCOII because of its links to the Muslim Brotherhood. "There can be no accords with those like the UCOII, who de facto deny the existence of the state of Israel and hold ambiguous positions on terrorism at the national and local level," according to Andrea Ronchi, Italy's former Minister for Community Policy.
After it came to light that the majority of the mosques in Italy are controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni called for a moratorium on the building of new mosques until a new national law could be written to regulate the phenomenon.
According to Manes Bernardini, a politician with the Northern League in Bologna, "Mosques are springing up like mushrooms, and mayors can do nothing about it because there is no national law to regulate the proliferation of these structures."
In this context, the creation of the CII on March 22 is an attempt by the Moroccan government to establish a new Muslim umbrella organization that would represent a more "moderate" face of Islam vis-à-vis the Italian government.
CII's founding document states that it "respects the holiness of life" and "rejects every form of violence." The document also says the CII "respects the principles of moderation, tolerance and respect towards others," and will "promote and defend the rights of Muslim women in Italy."
The primary motive behind the creation of the CII, which is being run by a Moroccan named Fihri Wahid, appears to be an effort to persuade the Italian government to approve and subsidize the construction of more mosques in the country. CII's founding document states: "Creating the best conditions in order to guarantee dignity and freedom of worship, underlining the importance that places of worship reflect the creative genius and the splendor of Italian culture towards the prospect of integration and dialogue with the other religions present in the country."
According to Hassan Abouyoub, the Moroccan Ambassador to Italy, the establishment of the CII is "an historic achievement. It will finally allow the Muslim population in Italy to have a new voice." Abouyoub added: "The mosques which are taking part in this new confederation are only of the Maliki tradition, which respect a moderate Islam."
The Maliki tradition refers to a school of Islamic Sharia law that is practiced in Morocco and other parts of North Africa. In fact, the "moderate" Maliki school of Islam is the official state religion in Morocco, where Christians are frequently harassed and often expelled from the country without due process, allegedly for proselytizing.
With the creation of the CII, Morocco is attempting to export to Italy a religious control strategy that is working very well in neighboring Spain, where the Moroccan government has been using an umbrella organization called the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities (FEERI), to exert control over the religious and cultural beliefs and practices of the nearly one million Moroccan immigrants who reside in Spain.
According to a leaked secret report prepared by Spain's National Intelligence Center (CNI), excerpts of which have been published by the Madrid-based El País newspaper, the Moroccan government is aggressively implementing "a strategy of great magnitude" that involves establishing a parallel Muslim society in Spain by discouraging Moroccans from integrating into their host country, and by encouraging them instead to live an Islamic lifestyle isolated from Spanish society.
The document also states that Rabat is financing the construction of hundreds of mosques in Spain whose imams are directly appointed by the Moroccan government. Moreover, the North African country is attempting to impose Muslim religious instruction in Spanish public schools, and is pressuring Moroccan families to remove their children from those schools that fail to comply.
A separate CNI report about financing Jihad in Spain provides other examples of how the Moroccan government is using Islam for political ends. For example, in November 2008, "the Moroccan Minister of Islamic Affairs organized and paid for a meeting in Marrakesh which was attended by a considerable number of imams and leaders of the Islamic communities in Spain," according to the CNI.
At that meeting, the Moroccan government promised "financing for all religious associations and mosques that are prepared to submit to the control of the [Moroccan] regime and to adhere to its instructions." The keynote speaker at the meeting was Mohamed Yassine Mansouri, head of the Moroccan Secret Service (DGED).
The CNI report also states: "The financing is having negative consequences for [multicultural] coexistence in Spain, such as the emergence of parallel societies and ghettos, Islamic courts and police that operate outside of Spanish jurisprudence, removing girls from schools, forced marriages, etc."
It continues: "There is insufficient control of financial flows involving grants and aid from other countries that are being funneled to the Islamic community in Spain. For the most part donors are using alternative channels to ensure that their donations escape the control of the regular Spanish financial system. Donors should be made fully aware of the risks associated with such financing."
Morocco also co-sponsored a weeklong seminar in Barcelona entitled "Muslims and European Values," during which it was proposed that the construction of big mosques would be "a useful formula" to fight Islamic fundamentalism in Spain.
A keynote speaker at the event, a Barcelona-based Moroccan imam named Noureddine Ziani, said it is absolutely necessary to accept Islamic values as European values and that from now on, Europeans should replace the term "Judeo-Christian" with term "Islamo-Christian" when describing Western Civilization.
Back in Italy, there are now an estimated 500 mosques in the country, in addition to thousands of informal Islamic prayer centers and Koranic schools, most of which are housed in basements, garages and warehouses.
Many of the mosque projects in Italy are being promoted by leftwing politicians, who are waging an ideological war with the Roman Catholic Church. As in many other European countries, multiculturalists in Italy hope that by promoting Islam, they will eventually succeed in destroying the country's Judeo-Christian heritage.
Now, with the creation of the CII, Italy may be one step closer to hosting yet another mosque, this time in the northern Italian city of Bologna.
Not coincidentally, Fihri Wahid, the new president of the CII, comes from the Moroccan community in Bologna, where the mayor postponed the construction of a mega-mosque (described as a "massive 6,000 square meter mosque inside a 52,000 square meter Islamic citadel" after it emerged that it was being financed by the UCOII.
Evidently, the Moroccans are hoping they can get permission to build the mega-mosque if it is sponsored by the new, more "moderate" CII.
Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.