Italy’s Mosque Building Boom

Roland Flamini reports in this week’s Corridors of Power that Italy has seen quite a boom in the number of mosques in the country in the last few years:

BOOM IN MOSQUE BUILDING — According to a report last week by the Italian Department for Security Information, the country’s version of Homeland Security, the number of mosques has doubled nationwide in the past seven years from 351 to 735. But the mosque building boom doesn’t reflect a corresponding surge in Muslim worshipers. Only about 8 percent of Italy’s one million Muslims frequent the mosque regularly. That works out at about one Islamic place of worship for every 100 Muslim regular attendees.

But Abulkheir Breigheche, the imam of Trento, in northern Italy, said mosques are more than just where practicing Muslims go on Fridays. “They are meeting places, teaching centers, and aid centers,” he declared. And, occasionally, terrorism training centers and weapons arsenals. A couple of weeks ago, police raided a mosque near Perugia, which they allege was being used as a “terror school.” They seized computers and a weapons cache. The mosque’s imam and two other men — all Moroccans — were arrested along with some 20 students.

Local media speculate that there are about 500 individuals under surveillance in Italy on suspicion of being linked to militant groups. Most of them are said to be in the Milan area, where attention centers on the Muslim cultural center.

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