A leader of Italy's Islamic community has launched an appeal to Muslims living in the northern city of Milan, urging them to vote in primaries on Sunday to elect the country's main centre-left opposition Democratic Party's leader.
The party is currently led by Pierluigi Bersani, and the primaries are an opportunity to gauge current grassroots support for his stewardship. Snap elections are looming in Italy since prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's key former ally, parliament speaker Gianfranco Fini, formed a new party this month and threatened to withdraw his support from the government.
Milan has 208,021 immigrants making up 16 percent of its population - more than double the national average of 6.5 percent, according to a September report by the Milan city council. Many of the immigrants are Muslims arriving from northern Africa.
Abdullah Paolo Gonzaga, who heads the Islamic Relief charity, has issued a call to Muslims in Italy on the Islam-Online.it website, telling them to take part in the Democratic Party primaries to elect the party leader and top regional officials.