Italy reopens mosques after landmark deal with Muslim bodies

Rome: Signing a landmark agreement with leading Muslim organizations, the Italian government will allow mosques and Islamic centers to reopen as part of an easing of the country’s coronavirus lockdown. Italy will reopen all places of worship, including Catholic churches, from May 18.

The protocol was signed at an official ceremony in Palazzo Chigi, the prime minister’s office. However, the religious authorities are obligated to enforce sanitary and social distancing.

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Ever since the lockdown began on March 9, mosques, prayer rooms and Islamic centers have been shut.

The agreement is viewed as a milestone on the road to full legal recognition and acknowledgement by the state and it is the first official act signed by an Italian government with Muslim representatives in the country.

As reported by the Arab News, the protocol was signed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese, and representatives of four Islamic organizations — Coreis (Italian Islamic Religious Community), the Great Mosque of Rome, Union of Communities and Islamic Organizations in Italy, and the Italian Islamic Confederation.

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The agreement was hailed by the Muslim associations representing the Pakistani, Senegalese and Bengali communities in Italy.

However, Yassine Lafram, president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, told the Italian prime minister that mosques will remain closed for Eid Al-Fitr regardless of the agreement.

Lafram said that it will be painful not to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr together in our prayer room as we do every year, but coronavirus is deadly. “We had better stay vigilant. Hopefully we will get together soon. And we will celebrate life and harmony,” he added.

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