Milan: Catholic Church backs Muslim struggle to build mosque

Milan: Catholic Church backs Muslim struggle to build mosque

Via CS Monitor:
Milan, the northern Italian city famed for finance and fashion, is home to about 100,000 Muslims, mostly migrant workers from North African countries. But within city limits, there isn't a single mosque.

Local Muslims say they have been unsuccessfully seeking permission to build one for years, perhaps due to growing Islamophobia, which is particularly strong in Northern Italy, where the anti-immigration Northern League has its stronghold.

Now, the Catholic Church is backing the Milan Muslims' quest.

“Milan civil institution must guarantee everyone religious freedom," Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the church's highest authority in town, told La Repubblica daily newspaper on Sept. 4. "Muslims have the right to practice their faith while respecting the law. Often the mosque issue has been distorted for political reasons, while it could become a instrument for civil coexistence."

Cardinal Tettamanzi's call reflects a wider view among Catholic leaders, says priest Davide Milani, a spokesman for the Milan diocese. “The Bishop's conference is behind Tettamanzi, [the Catholic Church] cares about religious freedom for everyone.”