A Muslim leader in Italy has called for greater protection of foreign minors in the country, in particular those who enter the country illegally.
Ahmad Vincenzo, the president of the Muslim Intellectuals Association, said that the debate about Roma Gypsy children should be extended to foreign children as well.
Vincenzo was referring to this week's announcement by Italy's Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, that Gypsy children whose parents keep them out of school and send them to beg on the streets would be taken into care.
"The question of the Roma Gypsy children is only one aspect of a vast problem of foreign minors, in particular those without a family, who arrive in our country and who are often exploited by criminal organisations," said Vincenzo.
He is also former coordinator of the Department of Inter-religious Dialogue, a cross-party group in the Italian Senate.
"The trafficking of children exists in Italy, where a large number of illegal immigrants currently are minors," he said.
"During the previous administration, we tabled a bill that would have prevented the exploitation of minors," said Karim Mezran, vice-president of the Muslim Intellectuals Association, who teaches at the Bologna Center of The Johns Hopkins University.
"We are immediately available to collaborate with Maroni to find widely shared solutions. We believe that even Catholic and Jewish organisations have our point of view," said Mezran.
Source: AKI (English)