More Muslims not fitting in; more Europeans not taking it. Nor can this be credited to “Islamophobia” since the mosque in question has already been accused of terrorist ties, including with al-Qaeda. “Evicted Milan Muslims pray at stadium ‘mosque,’” fromÂ Earth Times, July 18:
Milan, Italy – Italian police were out in force Friday at a Milan stadium converted into a makeshift mosque by Muslims who were forced to abandon their previous place of worship, a downtown garage which has been linked to Islamist terrorism.Â
Organizers of the Friday prayers, said they expected some 5,000 Muslims at the Vigorelli velodrome which also contains a disused cycling track.
The decision by Milan’s town hall to allow Muslims to use the facility on a temporary basis has triggered protests from local residents, raising concern of possible attempts to disrupt the prayer session.
On Friday, around a several dozen protesters, including far-right political leader, Daniela Santanche, gathered near the stadium.
“We are here to prevent a symbol of Milanese sport from being transformed into a mosque,” Santanche, who leads the opposition party, The Right, said.
Earlier this month, Italy’s centre-right government ordered the closure of the so-calledÂ Jenner mosqueÂ – the converted garage where for over 20 years, thousands of Muslims in Italy’s financial capital attended prayer sessions.
Interior Minister Roberto Maroni saidÂ the decision was based on public order and health concerns – worshippers often spilled out on the street– and complaints from local residents.
Maroni, a member of the anti-immigration Northern League, drew sharp criticism for the move, with one a prominent Catholic cleric, Monsignor Gianfranco Bottoni, who deals with inter-faith issues in Milan, describing it as “fascist”.
The Jenner mosque, which takes its informal name from the street where it was situated – had come under the spotlight several times for alleged links to extremism.
Investigators have suggested it may haveÂ served as an international clearing-house for al-Qaeda ahead of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
A Muslim cleric, Abu Omar, at the centre of an alleged “rendition” case involving US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents, says he was kidnapped on his way to the mosque in 2003 and then transferred to Egypt, where he was tortured.
Twenty-six suspected CIA agents and several Italian intelligence officials are currently on trial in Milan over his alleged rendition.