Italy: Muslims 'not welcome' in multi-faith prayer center

A proposal to turn a medieval palace in Genoa founded by Crusader knights into a multi faith prayer centre for Muslims, Jews and Christians has run into opposition from local politicians who say Muslims are "not welcome".

Members of the anti immigrant Northern League - which is part of the centre Right government led by Silvio Berlusconi - said the Genoa council's plan to use the Commenda di Pre for multi faith prayer was unacceptable.

Francesco Bruzzone, a regional councillor for the Northern League, said Muslims had "no business coming" to the hospital and hostel where crusaders and pilgrims had gathered and said mass before leaving for the Holy Land."This shows a lack of respect for history" Mr Bruzzone said. He said he had been due to go on holiday but instead had decided to stay in Genoa to protest.

Marta Vincenzi, the centre Left mayor of Genoa, said the council wanted to open an inter-religious centre "where members of the three monotheistic religions - Christians, Jews and Muslims - can all go to pray". Catholics would use the prayer centre on Sunday, Jews on Saturday and Muslims on Friday. Salah Hussein, the imam in Genoa, welcomed the idea, which he said would reinforce "civil co-existence".

However Corriere della Sera said there was already a Catholic chapel dedicated to St John adjoining the palazzo, while Jews had a synagogue in the centre of Genoa. The "real sticking point" was the Islamic community, which had asked to be allowed to build a mosque in Genoa but had encountered local resistance.

Ms Vincenzi said that as a compromise she had proposed that Muslims in Genoa be allowed to build a mosque near the port, wherer there was a mosque in medieval times, "but without a minaret". However the imam said that "for us a minaret is indispensable. It's like asking Christians to build a church without a belltower. A minaret has a very important function precisely because it is visible. It would show Muslims who come to Genoa but do not know the city where they can go to pray".

There was no question however of a muezzin call to prayer, the imam said, since Genoa was "not a Muslim city". Ms Vincenzi said a petition for a referendum being circulated by the centre Right in Genoa was "illegitimate - you cannot have a referendum on a constitutional right such as freedom of worship".

The Commenda di Pre, with three storeys of open galleries, was built in the eleventh century, and is still decorated with frescoes depicting the knights' battle insignia and coats of arms.

Source: Times Online (English), h/t Weasel Zippers


Mark Tapson said...

"For us a minaret is indispensable. . . A minaret has a very important function precisely because it is visible."

A minaret is certainly not indispensible in Islam. The imam is right, however, that its very important function is its visibility - not so Muslims new to the city will know where to worship, but because it serves as a visible symbol of the political dominance of Islam.

All these attempts at interfaith unity are nothing more than intellectually and theologically mushy nonsense, not to mention pathetic gestures of appeasement. It should be enough for everyone to simply respect each other's right to worship as they choose, with equal rights under the law and the separation of church and state.

Qualis Rex said...

This really is a good time to be Italian. We are the only ones in the EU standing up for our nation in the face of Mohammedanism.

Big Shaker - you are correct. The minaret's functional purpose is minimal. It's real purpose is as a territorial marker.

Anonymous said...

You're both right, an I'm digging la Lega Nord more and more every day. I realize that Italy is kind of different due to its history, but it makes me happy to see an EU country not bowing to Islamism and not abandoning its Judeo-Christian roots or its history. I'm also glad that someone isn't denying the Crusades. It's indefensible what the Christians did to the Jews, but not to the Muslims. When it came to them it was completely defensive and in every case absolutely the right thing to do.

And I'm glad that someone's being real about the purpose of minarets besides the Swiss (I hope I'm not confusing them with the Swedes!). First the minaret, then the hijab. I'm also glad that I have a heritage I can be proud of. Finally, kind of off-topic, but I dig the new pope. I just started "Without Roots: Europe, Relativism, Christianity, Islam," which he wrote before he became pope. It's fantastic. Oriana Fallaci said he was the only person she felt she could talk to about Islam, and she was an atheist. Viva l'Italia!

Mark Tapson said...

jdamn13 - "And I'm glad someone's being real about the purpose of minarets besides the Swiss (I hope I'm not confusing them with the Swedes!)."

No, you're right, it's the Swiss you're thinking of.

Esther said...


Big Shaker,

It should be enough for everyone to simply respect each other's right to worship as they choose, with equal rights under the law and the separation of church and state.

But that's the point of the article - the debate over whether the Muslims should have a mosque.


I'm also glad that someone isn't denying the Crusades. It's indefensible what the Christians did to the Jews, but not to the Muslims.

That's not what Lega Nord says. When the Crusaders got to Jerusalem, they torched the Jews alive in their synagogues and the Muslims in their mosques. You think that's defensible? Must be the love spread around by Christianity.

You are aware that both Jews and non-Byzantine Christians saw the advent of Islam in the Middle East as a blessed deliverance? They helped the invaders, since they had suffered so much from the yoke of the loving Christians. Living as a protected minority was *good*, compared with what they had to deal with under Christianity.

FreeSpeech said...

Minarets are as dispensable as bell towers. Best example: Hagia Sophia. I has no bell tower.

It does however have minarets to display the supremacy of Islam.

Anonymous said...

The Jews did not attack the Christians. Never did, so attacking them was, yes, indefensible and completely uncalled-for. Every attack carried out against Muslims was entirely defensive, so I would defend taking those actions, particularly Christians were only acting in Christian/Jewish lands. Most of the mosques were coverted churches anyway. The Jews were also full citizens in pre-Andalusian Spain to the extent that Christians were under serfdom. That's why Spain is considered to be the heartland of Sephardic Judaism. You should read Andrew Bostom's 'Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism.' Jews were not treated as "protected minorities" under Moorish dhimmitude. They faced constant ethnic cleansing, as did the Christians, but to a lesser extent.

And Italian cities, in case you guys aren't aware, each have a duomo, which is to be the tallest structure in the city, so you really can't have minarets in Italy. It would be like building minarets taller than the Eiffel Tower or the Clocktower in Austin, Texas.

And freespeech, the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople, while it did not have belltowers, did once have an enormous cross on the front which was replaced by a Turkish crescent.

Esther said...

Hi jdamn13,

You can explain away burning women and children alive, but don't expect me to believe that there's such a thing as Christian love.

The mosques might have been converted churches, but many churches used to be synagogues. On the other hand, the conquering Crusaders turned mosques built on the Temple Mount (where there were no churches..) into churches.

The land of Israel was only Christian when it was under conquest, first by the Romans, then by the Crusaders. It was never 'a Christian land' more than it was aa 'Muslim land'.

The 'golden age' of Sephardic Judaism was under Muslim rule. Jewish writing flourished. This came to an end when Spain was reconquered by the Christians. Until the Holocaust, this was considered the most horrible occurence in Jewish history. Even today, some Jews would not visit Spain on principle.

As for minarets - you can decide that a minaret can only be up to a certain height.

Life for Jews under Muslim rule was not a picnic, but life under Christian rule was not so fun either. During the 11th-12th century life became even harder and harder, as Jews became government property.

Religious minorities of all types were hounded down. Many of them fled to the New World, only to hound down other religious minorities there.

Life in Europe became bearable for religious minorities only after the Reformation. That is, only when Christianity stopped ruling those countries.

FreeSpeech said...

"This came to an end when Spain was reconquered by the Christians."

And Rambam? Was he fleeing christian rule? That would be new to me.

While people kill each other and discriminate, there is a difference between people and the message of the faith.

Islam is unique in this respect: It does not know the Golden Rule.

Esther said...

Hi FreeSpeech,

Isn't that the point? Maimondes was born during the Golden Age, when Moorish Muslims ruled Spain. When Spain was conquered by the Almohadians, the situation changed.

In other words, saying 'all Muslims this' and 'all Muslims that' is not really relevant.

This does not change what I wrote though. The reconquest of Spain and the murder and expulsion of Jews which followed was considered by Jews the greatest Jewish tragedy until the Holocaust.

Now, you claim Islam doesn't have the Golden Rule. I took a look at Wikipedia. They claim differently.

Mohammed's quote "Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you" is a bit convoluted, as the Jewish and Christian phrasing do not give reasoning.

The Christian phrasing follows the Torah (do to others as you want them to do to you), while the Jewish rabbis phrased it in the negative. "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow."

I've started reading the Koran and I find that it is filled with quotations and misquotations of Jewish ethics. It is obvious that Mohammed was heavily influenced by Jews he probably met and spoke with. However, both his followers and the Jews he met, were steeped in Arab desert culture.

Hanz said...

Hi jdamn13,
it is very well-known how the jewish scientsits were living under muslim ruling in europe. I am not going to give my opinions of mine, I am going to refer ot the recent study made by BBC and its complete video is posted in youtube under "YouTube - BBC - An Islamic History of Europe" in 12 parts.

look at that, you will see christian ppl in the video coming out of a church and interviewed by the BBC guy. go and see what they have said about their heritage during Al-Andalus time.

the study interviewed the head of surgery in one hospital there and he told about the gr8 contribution of muslims scientsis (by name and the type of contribution they made).

jewish, muslim and christian scientists were working on same table in translating the arabic books there. go there and you will see the Spanish scientsis taling about that.

the BBC study got help from a social scientist in Cambridge and she described the real facts of how muslims ruled europe at that time.

see the study and ypo will know what Fernand did with Jews after he conqured spain back from muslims.

I never heared in the whole muslim history about muslims who killed civilians. Some body tell me if there something like that


Mark Tapson said...

Esther - "Big Shaker... But that's the point of the article - the debate over whether the Muslims should have a mosque."

Actually, I believe the point of the article is that there is local resistance to the transformation of a Christian historical site into an inter-faith centre the three groups of monotheistic believers can use to encourage "coexistence," or "civil unity," or some such phrase. And my point was that such inter-faith centers are nothing more than cowardly attempts to appease Islamists and show them that we all worship the same God, we're all the same, we have all this common ground, can't we all just be nice and get along, blah blah blah. Before the surge of Islamic terrorism and cultural jihad there was never this desperate need on the part of the West to plead for civil coexistence. There already WAS, by and large, civil coexistence under the universal rule of law and the separation of church and state. Instead of pleading for the Islamists to play nice, we should be strictly enforcing this separation (which Islam denies) and respecting each other under the same laws (which Islamists are trying to replace with shari'a).

I do not oppose Muslims having a mosque in which to worship in this or any town. What I oppose is the Muslim agenda of cultural and political jihad. Indeed, the mayor in this town has proposed the building of a mosque but without a minaret, and THAT, apparently, is the sticking point, because the Muslims there want a minaret (at least they're not pressing for a loudspeaker for the call to prayer - yet). As I mentioned in my comment, the minaret is not indispensable to Islam - it is a symbol of Muslim political dominance, and that's why the Muslims there want it.

Esther said...

Hi Big Shaker,

I agree with you on that. If the Muslims wanted a place to pray, they would not demand a minaret.

FreeSpeech said...


Islam reduces the application of the Golden Rule to brethren, i.e. to people of their faith, Islam.

This is corroborated by
Sura 48:29 : "Muhammad is the Apostle of God and those with him are firm against the disbelievers, and merciful amongst themselves.
Surah 5:51: Don’t take the Jews and Christians as Friends


The jewish and christian concept is general (and that of other religions). the christian one is a repetition of the oulde jewish one anyway.
Plus, they can adapt to the times they live in, as their scriptures are inspired by god, not written by god.

So much fpr theory, you might say. However, if the theory is flawed, you can't fix anything.
Christian and jewish "theory" works fine.


As for Spain: As everywhere, be it Spain or be it with the Mutazili in Damascus, some reasonable muslim ruler would be overturned by some fundamentalists sooner or later - and they were right to overturn him. The scriptures are clear about that.

That is the trouble with Islam. It's in the system.

(The expulsion by the Reyes Catolicos was not in the religious system, it was in politics. It was unjust, of course, and stupid, too - Spain holds the world record in numbers of state bankruptcies, after the expulsion of the jews)

FreeSpeech said...

Here's the reference:

"None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." [Number 13 of Imam "Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths."]

The same hadith is reported by Bukhari 1.2.12

"The Prophet said, "None of you will have faith till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself."

see here:

FreeSpeech said...

oops. try

FreeSpeech said...

"I never heared in the whole muslim history about muslims who killed civilians. Some body tell me if there something like that"

About time you read some history books. Muslims are human, too, you know.

FreeSpeech said...


"Mohammed's quote "Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you" is a bit convoluted, as the Jewish and Christian phrasing do not give reasoning. "

This one says: "Don't hit anyone strong enough to hit back" - it only applies to people who have the means to hit back.
Dhimmis can't. So this one, too, applies to the muslim community only.

(last post for today ;-) )

Esther said...

Hi freespeech,

Look at the Jewish original "Love your *fellow* as yourself" The word in Hebrew means your 'fellow Jew'. This is also how Maimonides ruled on it.

Not that this prevents Jews from accepting it globally today.

I don't accept that "Islam" demands something. It is the believers who decide what to do with their faith. If the Muslims of today would think violence is bad, you would 'suddenly' see that the Koran advocates non-violence.

As for the Torah being 'inspired' by God... note the following principles of faith, repeated by religious Jews every morning:

* I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that is now in our possession is the same that was given to Moses our teacher, peace be upon him.
* I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be exchanged, and that there will never be any other Torah from the Creator, Blessed be His Name.

It seems so simple to you that Jews today don't practice stoning, or forcing widows to marry their husband's brother or 'an eye for an eye' or other such laws specifically mentioned in the Torah.

This is not because Judaism doesn't believe those laws did not come directly from God. quite the contrary. It's because *Jews* changed those laws, doing so within the religious legal system.

I'm not arguing that the Koran, given to warrior desert tribes, is not violent. However, I think that's not an excuse. It is not Islam which is violent, it is Muslims. Just as it's not Christianity which for centuries was violent, it was the Christians.

You talk about the Golden Rule as if it's a Christian principle, and it is. But so is blaming the Jews (today!) for killing Jesus (2000 years ago!). I've personally been told I'm to blame for it, so despite what people think, this is not something that disappeared.

In other words, the faithful don't always follow what their holy books say. And even when they do, it's very easy to interpret them in various ways.

Reminds me of an article I read about the Jews during the American Civil War. The Jews of the North said that Jewish law was against slavery. the Jews of the South found proof to the contrary. There were of course exceptions, just as there were among the Christians of the South, who were also Bible believing and who saw no problem with slavery since Blacks did not have souls. It wasn't religion which dictated how these people acted, though they found explanations for it in their holy texts.

Esther said...

Hi freespeech,

Re last post: that's your interpretation.

Should one want to follow that they could say that you never know how one could hurt you back. Therefore, you're not allowed to hurt anybody.

FreeSpeech said...

"It is not Islam which is violent, it is Muslims."

I think the opposite is true for Islam.

The Golden Rule is a general principle, not a christian one.

Somewhere in the old Testiomony it says to treat a foreigner like one of yours. Now that is something that makes it very general.

Jews have the right think for themselves. (At least, that's how I know the few I know) That makes it possible to re-interpret the scriptures differently today. The same goes fpr the christians, and other faiths (including atheists like me). In Islam, that equals apostasy.

I read what Mo said in his last sermon. It does not say don't harm, as you do not wish to be harmed. He said don't harm, you could get it back. The latter is not an ethic principle, it is a statement about power situations.

If he had meant the ethic principal, he would have said that. And they would have reported that.

I differntiate between people and ideology. At times, people can't escape ideology and those who use it for their own purposes. Particularly when you have a family and children that could be hurt.

It is a difficult situation for muslims with a good heart and decent attitude.

FreeSpeech said...

Jews have the right to think for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Hanz, Muslims don't kill civilians? Ask any Israeli about how no Muslims have killed civilians several times today alone in their country. How about the 3000 people killed in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Madrid? London? How about the Kurds under Saddam Hussein? I could go on for years, but that's all I will give to the single most ridiculous statement I've ever read in my life. Read your Koran, hanz. Every attack in that book (or "battle" as Muslims call it, as if unprovoked night raids on unarmed women and children constituted "battles") were entirely unprovoked, and every single victim was an innocent civilian. You are a truly sick person to believe that any one of them in any way incited the wrath of Muhammad or was not an innocent victim, just like you are unbelievably ignorant of your own scripture to claim that it in no way advocates or incites racism or intolerance.

And yes, many "Muslim" scientists (who were not Muslims, just conquered Persians and Byzantines under physical duress) made many contributions built on the works of the Greeks, the Byzantines, the Indians, and the Chinese. But after they were conquered that all stopped after just one generation, and even the brilliant Persians dedicated all their scholarship to Islam, since Islam only begets more Islam. They also produced the majority of the most revered Islamic scholarship during that era. And many Christian and Jewish dhimmis got a lot of work done for the ummah under the physical duress of dhimmitude.

Esther, I defer to your judgment on this one since you obviously know far more about it than I, and because I realize how indefensible the Church was back in the day in many ways. Most of my knowledge of the Crusades is from Robert Spencer and Andrew Bostom, and, while incredibly informative, they only provide bits and pieces of the whole picture through various disconnected essays. The Church was pretty evil to everyone back in the day, and certainly supremacist and intolerant (which is precisely the kind of thinking and behavior that Jesus denounced in the Gospels, and Moses in Exodus), even reducing its own people to serfs and upholding monarchy and all, but I still think that reclaiming every inch of that land from the Muslims was absolutely the right thing to do. What a horrible world we would be had they not done so.

I do think that minarets ruin gorgeous Italian city skylines, regardless of how high they are. They do a disservice to the already-hideous Detroit skyline when you can see them through the smog.

And you know that all those peaceful-sounding distortions of Biblical scripture only apply within the ummah, and not to infidels. You must have read about what Muhammad did to those Jewish tribes in the Koran. Do you think that actually applied to infidels? He cut off their water supply and beheaded 900 men in one day then enslaved all their women and children. That is not abiding by the Golden Rule, but it is the "perfect example" of how to live and treat others in the Islamic ideology.

I also believe that the Golden Rule is a two-way street, so no more mosques until people of other faiths can live and worship at all in Saudi Arabia, and safely and freely throughout the Muslim world, and until every single Muslim country signs onto both the UDHR and the Geneva Convention. That is asking for nothing, really, just some base modicum of decency and fairness on the part of the Muslim world. The sticking point about the minaret was because Islam views Dar-al-Harb as conquered Muslim territory. Not just Spain, but all of Europe and the New World too. If it were a personal creed and a personal way of worshipping, then they would not even ask for mosques, but mosques are where they congregate in order to reassure themselves of their political power. That's why every Friday afternoon in Egypt dozens if not hundreds of Copts turn up dead. They go there to get inspired to assert their political dominance. There is no communion in Islam like there is in Christianity, and there is no brotherhood via a sacred covenant like in Judaism. There is congregation for the purpose of infusing personal worship with colonialist politics. This has always been the purpose of mosques, and so much more so today in Dar-al-Harb. I also firmly believe that mosques - not all off them, but certainly almost all the free-world upstart mosques - serve an agenda, which is to radicalize the peaceful, live-and-let-live Muslims with Salafist, Wahhabist ideology. How many Sufi or Ahmadi mosques do you see them asking for? Sufis spend their lives in peaceful service to Allah (except in Thailand, apparently, where they're terrorists too as of late). If anyone needs a mosque, it's the Sufis, but they have no political power withing the Ummah, so they don't get mosques. There isn't even a movement to petition for Sufi mosques.

And I'm half-Jewish and half-Roman so I TOTALLY killed the hell out of Jesus no matter how you slice it or who you ask.

Esther said...

Hi FreeSpeech,

Jews have a right to think for themselves only because they "took" that right.

In Islam it equals apostasy only because Muslims decided that's the way it should be.

Islam could be as flexible as any other religion, it's only up to the believers.

FreeSpeech said...

Now you go twisting, Esther.

Esther said...

Hi Freespeech,

'Twisting'? Please explain.

I really think that saying "Islam is the problem" lets Muslims hide behind their religion. The West says this, but Islam says that. Well, there are different ethic and moral systems, how can the West force its own morals on another religion etc. etc.

I don't accept that. *Islam* does not say anything. Islam is what Muslims decide that it is. It is *Muslims* who decide how to interpret their holy books. They might decide that the way those books were interpreted 1000 years ago is good enough for them today. The West shouldn't stand for it.

Did Mohammed say that Muslims should fight for their religion? Of course he did. That does not mean that Muslims today should fight for their religion. The circumstances are different, the world is different, the non-believers are different and the Muslims themselves are different. Who decides that what is true for a small band of fighers is true for independent countries? Not "Islam", but whoever interprets what the book says.

Anonymous said...

I would actually argue that Muslims are not all that different today. That's why they're pretty much the same anywhere, be it Bosnia or Indonesia. Islam is the reason for that, because Muslims are always supposed to strive to maintain it in its purest form by molding society around it so as to impose morality from the top down rather than leave it to individuals and their conscience. It is a system which leaves little room for individuality, and yet, it's brilliantly compatible with almost any traditional (i.e., tribal) society. And it is particuarly true of the Arabs that they haven't changed, since Islam is so ingrained in their sense of who they are, especially since they killed or exiled all the Arab Christians.

"To me it seems certain that the fatalistic teachings of Muhammad and the utter degradation of women is the outstanding cause for the arrested development of the Arab. He is exactly as he was around the year 700, while we have kept on developing" -General George S. Patton: The War as I Knew it, 1974, p.49

Islam was built around a society of spineless "warriors" who attacked women and children in unprovoked night raids. It really only works in societies like that. Only in a spineless warrior culture can human life have so little value, can women be so demeaned, or can success come only from destroying others (which of course leads to a complete lack of a concept of progress, since in that line of thinking one should not have to, for example, adopt better methods of agriculture, because more crops only mean success if someone else loses them). Men are naturally anarchical and women are naturally civilized. It is the job of women to socialize men. When are women subjugated, Islamic societies are the result. Zero-sum thinking, no concept of trust, and "honor" as a substitute for morality.

Esther said...

Hi jdamn13,

So is it culture or religion? Did Arab Christians 'transcend' their culture? Do you think Christianity is the 'answer'?

elisheba said...

The Quran repeats the Bible. It is immature to speak against something you know nothing about.