Italian Muslims held Friday prayers near the Colosseum in Rome, Italy to protest the shut downs of several mosques in the country.
This comes from a line of discrimination in Italy, starting with not recognizing Islam as an official religion. According to Al Jazeera, there are more than 800,000 Muslims in Italy, which make up about 1.5% of the Italian population. Islam, although not recognized, is the second most popular religion in the area after Roman Catholicism.
Yet recently, mosques and mosque-like centers have been banned or shut down in many parts of Italy. In the Liguria region, a law has been passed, which according to the Italian news site, Genova, has been dubbed an anti-mosque law — since it prohibits minarets and other non-“Liguarian” architecture.
Protesters at the Colosseum believe that the bans are out of fear and mistrust due to the recent attacks in Europe and thus are shutting down mosques for reasons such as the number of toilets and other sorts of building violations.
The protest was organized by a Bangladeshi group called Dhuumcatu and hundreds of Muslims showed up in support.
One Muslim convert by the name of Francesco Tieri said, “We feel people are pointing the finger at us, There is no political will to recognize that we are here and that we are a peaceful community. We are forced to rent places to pray — which for us is like breathing air. If we can’t do it, we die.”
Rome is home to the largest mosque in the Western world. Yet proposals for building new mosques are being refused and those that are open and running are being closed.
With mosques shutting down, Muslims take to renting community centers. Some are praying within their homes, to which Interior Minister Angelino Alfano responded, “mini mosques in garages” should not be allowed. With that, they have placed a ban on building mosques, shutting down community centers and makeshift mosques and are also discouraging praying together in homes.
Islam is a community-based religion — so banning of mosques and places to congregate as a religion is a form of oppression. Islamophobia is not only the fear and hate Muslims may receive by random people on the street. Islamophobia is extended in the workplace and through laws passed by the government. It is quickly expanded throughout the world, as we can see in America, France and now Italy with the systemic discrimination of Italian Muslims.