Italy's Northern League, a neo fascist, xenophobic, sometimes separatist movement that is a key component of Silvio Berlusconi's governing coalition, has proposed new legislation which would in effect halt construction of new Islamic mosques. The bill, which the League's chief of deputies Roberto Cota is expected to send to parliament next week, would require regional approval for the building of mosques. It would also require that a local referendum be held, that there be no minaret or loudspeakers calling the faithful to prayer, and sermons must be in Italian, not Arabic.
Currently the main governing party is not backing the bill which would violate Italy's constitution.
It has received support from the small, ultra-Catholic UDC party, and the proposed anti-mosque legislation undoubtedly and unfortunately reflects the feelings of many non-Muslim Italians.
Anti Muslim haters from across Europe are hailing the proposed legislation.
For example, this from some English guy on the blog Up Pompei:
"The UK needs to do as Italy is doing, we need to be assertive and say no more Mosques, no more Islam and at the same time encourage the Muslim to return to Dar ul Islam and stay there."
The truth is that whenever a xenophobic party succeeds on pushing its agenda in one European country it has an effect on all the others since the issues upon which such a party often rides are common ones throughout the continent.
While Italy has more than 1.2 million Muslims unlike Judaism, Buddhism and some Protestant denominations, it is not officially recognized by the state.
Earlier this month Euro MP Mario Borghezio's (pictured here) vowed to "defend Christianity against profanation by Islam" at a rally of Northern League members to protest against a Genoan city council plans to turn a church which was a former hospital of the Knights of Malta in the 13th century into a multi faith prayer centre for Muslims, Jews and Christians.
Accompanied by dozens of people waving the League's flag, Borghezio gained entry to the building by waving his Euro deputy's card. He then swore to "continue the fight of the Knights of the Order of Malta to defend Christianity."
Italy's top prelate Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco denounced Borghezio for making his statement in a church, which he said was "solely a place for prayer and worship."
"(I express) total disapproval (of Italian and Euro MP Mario Borghezio's vow to) defend Christianity against profanation by Islam," Bagnasco, the Bishop of Genoa and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, told Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
In case you wondered, The Knights of the Order of Malta, also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, is a Christian militia that had a mission of defending territories the Crusaders captured from Muslims.
The Order’s fighters, known as the Knights Hospitaller, helped the Crusaders in raids on Muslim countries near the coasts of Italy, including Tunisia, Libya and Morocco.
The organization is also accused of conducting massive missionary work in troubled regions in Muslim countries like Sudan’s Darfur under the guise of aid and charity.
The following is from IslamOnline.net
Italian Bill to Block Mosque Building
CAIRO — A far-right Italian party is planning to table a draft law that would effectively block the construction of mosques in the southern European country, the Financial Times reported on Monday, August 25.
The Northern League will present the parliament next week with a bill that requires regional approval and a local referendum for building mosques.
It would also mandate that mosques should have no minaret or loudspeakers calling the faithful to prayer.
The motion demands that mosques will have to be at least one kilometer away from any nearby church and that sermons be delivered in Italian, not Arabic.
The Northern League has four ministers in the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, including the interior ministry.
The motion is only supported by the small, ultra-Catholic UDC party with no immediate support from Berlusconi's Forza Italia party or from the ex-Fascist National Alliance.
Milan Friday Prayer Dilemma
Italy has a Muslim population of some 1.2 million, including 20,000 reverts, according to unofficial estimates.
Muslims are already having hard time getting approval for mosque building before the new bill.
Residents in Genoa protested last September plans to build a mosque in the town, claiming that it would be offensive because it is near a church.
In the town of Colle di Val d'Elsa, most of the residents see a planned mosque a symbol of "occupation".
Italian authorities have bowed to pressures of far-right groups and put off plans to build a mosque in Bologna.
The Northern League is widely accused of racism with many critics calling it the BNP of Italy, a reference to the British right-wing party.
Its election campaign played on issues such as immigration, crime and economic and cultural fears from immigration.
Portraying itself as a defender of Italy's Christian roots, it started its mission in the new government in May with bringing down a mosque in the northern city of Verona.
Last September, the League rejoiced the success of its campaign to halt the building of a mosque in the northern city of Bologna.
On August 8, League MP Mario Borghezio burst into a church in the northern city of Genoa shouting anti-Islam statements.
He vowed to "continue the fight of the Knights of the Order of Malta to defend Christianity."
The Sovereign Military Order of Malta began as a Christian charity in Al-Quds in 1080 to provide care for poor and sick pilgrims to the Holy Land.
It is now a state located in Rome and is recognized by 50 countries worldwide.
It is accused of conducting massive missionary work in troubled regions in Muslim countries like Sudan's Darfur under the guise of aid and charity.
Its locals or members must take a solemn oath reading: "I will provide myself with arms and ammunition that I may be in readiness when the word is passed, or I am commanded to defend the church either as an individual or with the militia of the Pope."