Italy is different than any other European country when coming to Islam and Muslim people in their land. When Muslims first started coming to Italy in the 80’s they were coming for education. The first mosques were built not for immigrants or workers but for elite students studying in Italy. Mosques were altered more towards the religion traditions as more immigrants came to Italy. Another unique quality that Italy has is all the immigrants are dispersed and there are no central locations of groups of immigrants. Also, a characteristic is that Islamic presence became visible at entry rather than with 2nd generation immigrants like in other countries. The amount of different ethnic groups in Italy keeps the country from being identified as one religious group. All the characteristics have consequences that can be shown through a social equation.
Greater residential and labor dispersion + smaller weight of ethnic and secular associations + immigration from countries with higher Islamic consciousness = greater weight of cultural-religious socialization.
The estimation of Islamic legal and illegal immigrants make up about 35% of Italy’s population and have a large enough number to be considered Italy’s second religion. This is important to consider when political leaders in Italy decide which religions are legally recognized or not.
In Italy, religions have a legal recognition by state issued agreement s between it and legally recognized bodies representing different religious communities. Catholics get a special treatment because of Concordato. Other religions wanted to be included in a similar system have to sign an agreement (intesa) with their state.
Muslim is in principal, is legitimate but the state has yet to reach an agreement to make the religion available to the states benefits like many other religious groups have. Intesa is not juridically a duty of the state. Signing a intesa is a political decision of the state. By giving legal recognition to Muslims would help out their foreign policy and would be appreciated by Muslim natives in Italy.
Problems that Italians have with giving Muslims an intesa is that most are not Italian citizens so they don’t see the need to make an official agreement if the Muslim people aren’t officially citizens. There are not many Islam political groups to show power to make this agreement process happen. With the religion comes cultural differences between Italians and Islam and that separates them from being considered for itesa like other religions. There is a weak level of organization and cohesion which doesn’t give a strong point to pass a intesa. All factors combined create a separation that makes it more difficult for Islam people to have their religion legally recognized in Italy.
America and Europe have a commonality that they have immigrants coming into their country daily. However, the way that the two countries handle and accommodate those immigrants is night and day. In the article, Why the US doesn’t have a Muslim problem but Europe does, Naveed Jamali talks about his personal experience with living as a Muslim in America versus how his uncle and his family live in Germany as a muslim. Jamali’s father came to America on a Fulbright Scholarship and has lived in the US ever since. He live’s like a normal American and practices his citizen rights such as voting. Jamali is treated as any other person in America, not as an immigrants son who happens to be muslim. Jamali’s uncle and his family have never fully fit into the German culture or have been seen as equal. This unequal is what stemmed ISIS actions and the growth of the ISIS group. Men like Jamali’s family were not treated with respect or as an equal in any way and were fed up with the way they were treated and that is why the group has grown so much over the past few years.
People come to America every day for the “American Dream”. The US knows that our country is a country of education and opportunity. Since the US is aware of that and are welcoming, immigrants are treated with respect and are given a shot to become something they may have not become in their home country. Over the past 10 years or so, being open to others beliefs and non offensive, and including all race and nationality has become a main focus of the country. The US is proud of the diversity that it has and wants to take a little of each culture and make what the American culture is. Americans give the ability for American Muslims to assimilate and that is what the difference is.
Is the author of this article biased? Of course. Who isn’t? Jamali and his family has been treated very well since coming to the US so there is a positive attitude towards the country. There may be other groups of people who wouldn’t feel the same but in this case, American Muslims have that opportunity to thrive and be a part of American Culture.