Italy: Moroccan MP faces death threats

Italy: Moroccan MP faces death threats

Souad Sbai spent years in Italy defending battered women in the Moroccan immigrant community before the death threats started coming.

Now that she's a member of parliament, she wonders if they'll ever stop.

So far three men originally from North Africa face trial accused of making death threats against her, she said in an interview. But Sbai, a 48-year-old from a Moroccan family, is still receiving threatening phone calls and emails.

The last note in March said she would go to hell.

"They threaten me, they scream. They make fatwas," said Sbai, who was elected to parliament last year as part of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative coalition.

Sbai has lived in Italy for 30 years and is the head of the Association of Moroccan Women in Italy, which campaigns for women's rights and gives legal advice to victims of abuse.

"At the beginning I was afraid, and that's normal. But you get used to that too," she told Reuters.


Since entering politics, the threats have increased dramatically, she says, blaming radical imams who she believes are telling their followers, wrongly, that she insults Islam.

"I've never talked about Islam," she said. "I've spoken about Muslims who treat women badly. And this is a crime?"


In one of the threatening messages, Sbai was accused of being an opportunist who used immigrant women to advance her career and was criticised for not covering her face in public.

"The woman who does not cover her head will be hung by her hair ... Allah will punish you for the evil you have done to people," the message read.

Sbai says she is not a practising Muslim but is proud of her Islamic heritage, and doesn't need to wear a veil to prove it.

"I didn't wear a veil in Morocco. My mother didn't and my grandmother didn't. I'm in the West and I should wear a veil? Are they crazy?" she asks. "They're backward. They're extremists. They have nothing to do with Islam."


Source: Reuters (English)

For more on Souad Sbai see:
* Rome: Grand mosque boycotts radical meeting
* Rome: Colosseum prayers fuel row, calls for sermons in Italian
* Italy: 600 girls in risk of FGM
* Italy: Moroccan activist claims abuse of Muslim women
* Italy: Court discriminates against Muslim girls
* Italy: Polygamous marriages on the rise
* Italy: Stories of polygamous marriages

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