VENICE Says No To Mosque
Venice is worldwide known as one of the most romantic cities, attracting every year millions of tourists from the four corners, in search of a special place to celebrate particular occasions, and also admiring a place which is unique. Calle, campielli and canals, gondolas are a hymn to romanticism and sweetness, perfect for honeymooning or simply loose in the beauty of historical palaces.
Recently, there has been a strong debate concerning the hospitality of some refugees, together with the decision to deny the construction of a mosque.
Let’s try to understand what’s behind this decision.
Venice itself, and the whole country of Italy, has been accepting huge number of refugees coming from different countries. Once on Italian soil, these people must be recognized, then distributed. It is an enormous job, which requires endless organizational skills from all the involved humanitarian and civil associations, as well as the so many volunteers.
City on Waters
The city, with its particular water structure, is not helpful, with only few streets available, and where most of the people move from one side to the other by using “ vaporetti”, a sort of water taxi. It is therefore difficult to organize and follow great flows of people move around.
It is a city with century-old traditions, with a mere 55,000 local inhabitants, for which it still takes time to acquire the right mentality to welcome migrants.
With the arrival of migrants, the request of a mosque has increased.
So, if up to now, Venice has never had a mosque, and Islamics were obliged to pray in fortune places, either private homes or property shops, at the beginning of may, and for next seven months, they had finally found a proper place, in a church of the Cannaregio sestiere, Santa Maria della Misericordia.
A baroque church turned Mosque. The President of the Islamic community of Venice, Mohamed Amin Al Ahdab said that “sometimes is it necessary to demonstrate that you are peaceful, and you wish local people to see our culture."
It seemed that the city had finally found a solution to this thorny matter.
The so new-born place of worship has, unfortunately, been closed after only a few days, due to ”violated rules”.
Reasons for a step back
Though we live in a world of continuous transformation, in a period of constant humanitarian crisis, it should be at least irresponsible to deny access and help to those in need, as well as a proper place to pray, the city said no. Venice probably wants to preserve its millennial façade of culture, without opening to different religious beliefs.
The Regional Council of the Veneto region has just approved a law which imposes limitations to the construction of new places of worship, especially for Islamic Faith. The word mosque was never ever listed in the document, but the reference and allusion is almost obvious.
New established law implies that new religious structures must be erected only in “F” areas, infrastructures and public interest sites which are located far from urban centers, mainly in the suburban boroughs, with the condition to equally provide streets and parkings. It was argued that a crowd of faithful should have created a sort of overcrowding.
This decision was almost a “schiaffo” (slap) from the President of the Veneto region Luca Zaia, to the Venetian Patriarch Francesco Moraglia, president of the Triveneto Episcopal Conference, who argues that this anti-mosque law is against religious freedom.
According to him, “the exercise, even public, of Faith is a civil and ecclesial value, which allows everybody to express, by respecting others’s convictions."
He also underlined that, “with all the due forms of warranty and legal protection, the inalienable right principle of religious freedom should not be denied, and ”religious freedom, respectful of others’ consciousness for good and civil living rules must be, today more than ever, potentiated, strengthened and developed ”.
Anti- Islamic position, so?
It seems that Venice will not open up to muslims, wanting to preserve it century-old traditions, its medieval culture and its so many artistic beauties. Last thing the city wants is to be in a mess.
From now on, Islamic faithful will be obliged to turn to private places again to profess their Faith.
Article authored by Sonia Russo :