‘Sicilians have affinity for the Islamic world in their DNA’
A Muslim stronghold for about 200 years between the ninth and 11th centuries, Sicily bears the marks of Islamic history.
How good that al Jizz found another scribbler who praises the “golden age” of Islamic occupation on this land of blood-feuds, mafia protection rackets and Godfather movie lore. What would Sicily be without Islam?
Palermo, Italy – The sound of about two dozen children practising Quran recitations fills the otherwise empty Islamic Cultural Center of Via Roma in Palermo, Italy.
Two break out of the group and start playing hide-and-seek between a curtain that separates the children’s section from the rest of the centre.
They are quickly ushered back to their place by Imam Sehab Uddin.
Home to more than 25,000 immigrants, many from majority Muslim countries such as Bangladesh, Palermo, has become a symbol of multiculturalism and integration that has been built on Sicily’s history.
A Muslim stronghold for about 200 years between the ninth and 11th centuries, the Mediterranean island – of which Palermo is the capital – still bears the marks of Islamic history both physically and culturally.
Ahmad Abd Al Majid Macaluso, the Imam of Palermo, walks through the San Giovanni degli Eremiti monastery and points to a discoloured section of wall.
He explains that was where the Mihrab used to be, the semi-circular carving in a mosque’s wall that faces the Kaaba in Mecca, the holiest site in Islam.
“Every church here used to be a mosque which used to be a synagogue which used to be a church which was a mosque,” he explains. “This is the history of Sicily.”
|Imam Ahmed Abd Al Majid Macaluso prays at the Palermo Mosque, one of city’s 13 mosques [Savin Mattozzi/Al Jazeera]|
Imam Macaluso thinks that these symbols, like the Quranic inscription on the Cathedral of Palermo, the Arab-Norman architecture that dots the landscape, and the culture of the people make it a bit easier for Muslim immigrants to adjust to their new home.