* A provocation? Â It most certainly is.
Â But its more than provocation: call it Islamic conquest, jihad against Italy…
Â Â Â Â Â MEP condemns Muslim prayer outside Milan Cathedral Â Â Â Â
Rome: A member of Italy’s anti-immigration opposition party condemned yesterday the weekend prayer by thousands of Muslims outside Milan’s Cathedral in protest against Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.
“The fact that Muslim extremists transformed the Cathedral square into an outdoor Mosque (constitutes) an incredible provocation,” ANSA news agency quoted Mario Borghezio, European deputy with the Northern League, as saying.
“The prayer to Allah recited by thousands of fanatical Muslims is an act of intimidation, a slap in the face for the city of Milan which must remain Christian,” he added.
Leader of the pack:Â
convicted terrorist imam Abu ImadÂ Milan imam Abu Imad is seen at the Milan court, Italy, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007. An Italian judge gave Abu Imad and 10 others jail sentences of up to 10 years on Thursday in the terrorism trial of a cell accused of recruiting militants and sending them to conflict areas in the Middle East, a prosecutor said. The imam, Abu Imad, was given one of the lighter sentences, three years and eight months in jail, because he had left the organization in 1999, prosecutor Armando Spataro said.
Roughly 5,000 people, mostly migrants to Italy, gathered in Milan Saturday in protest against Israeli military strikes on the Gaza Strip since December 27, with hundreds of Muslims convening outside Milan Cathedral for a prayer.
Many demonstrators carried banners depicting the Star of David with a Nazi swastika and burnt Israeli flags, provoking deep offence among Italy’s Jewish population. “The protest against Israel has been monopolised by those who burn flags carrying a Star of David, deny Israel’s right to exist and, even worse, want a war of religions,” wrote Gad Lerner, a prominent Jewish journalist and writer in Italy, on his blog.
But Father Tonio dell’Olio, former Secretary General of Pax Christi Italy, told Corriere della Sera newspaper it was “legitimate that Muslim solidarity is conveyed through prayer.”
Vatican ‘uneasy’ about Muslims praying outside cathedral during ‘hate-filled’ Gaza protest rally
The Vatican today expressed its ‘unease’ at the hundreds of Muslims who gathered in prayer outside a Catholic cathedral during a Gaza protest rally.
Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, spoke out after photographs of Muslims kneeling in front of Milan Cathedral, towards Mecca, were published in Italian newspapers.
Demonstrators gather in the Piazza San Giovanni in Rome earlier this week
In an interview with the Vatican’s official newspaper Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Martino said: ‘For me the sight of people at prayer does not trouble me, it is good that people pray. (does the good cardinal know anything about WHAT Muslims pray?)
‘But what really troubled me and left me uneasy was the fact that Israeli flags were burnt and there were slogans, all manifestations of hate and which followed a prayer session.’Â
There were similar scenes outside a cathedral in Bologna where local bishop Ernesto Vecchi also strongly condemned the sight of Muslims kneeling in prayer.
He stormed: ‘This was not prayer. This was a challenge – not just to the cathedral but to our very system of democracy and culture. This is confirmation that there is a project to Islamise Europe.
The rally in Milan was led by the city’s Muslim Imam Abu Imad who has been convicted in Italy of terrorism related offences – a fact noted by MP Maurizio Gasparri.
The centre right politician said: ‘When 10,000 Muslims arrive in front of Milan Cathedral, led by an Imam who has convictions for terrorism then public order needs to be looked at.
‘It is evident that this was intended as a threat and the decision to pray and hold the rally in front of the Cathedral is very significant.
‘Italy, unlike many Arab countries, is proud of the fact that it allows religious freedom but fundamentalists must not be allowed to gather and present a possible threat.’Â
Tonight officials in Milan and Rome said they were investigating the rally and would be speaking to organisers as they had not been given permission to stop in front of Milan Cathedral during the rally.
Mario Borghezio, an MEP with Italy’s anti immigration Northern League party, stormed:’The fact that Muslim extremists transformed the Cathedral square into an outdoor Mosque constitutes an incredible provocation.
‘The prayer to Allah recited by thousands of fanatical Muslims is an act of intimidation, a slap in the face for the city of Milan which must remain Christian.’Â
Just before Christmas Mr Borghezio had also hit out at a Catholic priest who had placed a model mosque complete with minaret in his church Nativity scene.