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Italy: Algerian writer warns of Islamophobia

Reader comment on item: Islamophobia?

Submitted by Sophie (Canada), Oct 28, 2005 at 11:42

Rome, 28 Oct. (AKI) - There is blatant Islamophobia in Italy made up of generalisations, confusion and bad faith, argues a Rome-based Algerian journalist in a new book. Speaking to Adnkronos International (AKI), Nacera Benali, accuses Italian academics, journalists and politicians of making "absolutely offensive statements about Muslims", but notes that unlike in other EU countries "no one seems indignant".

"There is a trivialisation of Islamophobia in Italy, which tends to pass off all Muslims for terrorists, or at the very least fundamentalists and enemies of the West as well as of values like freedom and democracy," Benali said.

The title of her book, Scontro di inciviltà, plays on the 'clash of civilisations', which becomes "Clash of (in)Civilisations, and examines links between Italian Muslims and their mainly Catholic host country.

"I wrote this book to tell Italians that even Muslims have a tolerance threshold and pride that they want to salvage. Why must we resign ourselves to this creeping hostility towards everything related to the Muslim world?" she asked.

Benali argues that the tone used in debate on Islamic terrorism and inter-religious dialogue "is poisoned by an arrogant and scornful stance towards Muslims as a whole".

She believes that "Islamophobic arguments being advanced by a substantial part of the Italian mass media and an influential quota of politicians are dangerous and undermine peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Italians." She points the finger in particular at the xenophobic Northern League who use Muslims as 'scapegoats" and journalists who play the League's game.

The Algerian journalist appealed to her fellow Muslims in Italy "to launch a proper information campaign towards Italians keen to know more about Islam and not to leave space only to fundamentalists."

Benali considers herself a secular Muslim, attached to her Arab and Muslim roots and culture but willing to fight so that universal human rights become a reality in Musllim countries.

"For example, I observe Ramadan, I am also against the death penalty and oppose polygamy," she said.

The key to dialogue, Benali told AKI, is the intellectual honesty and sincerity to try to understand different cultures. But she stresses that this must be on an equal level.

In her interview with AKI, Benali also criticises the Italian authorities for their late wake-up regarding terrorism in Algeria. "I lost part of my family, massacred in December 1998. That was a decade after we Algerian journalists had begun urging the European police forces to cut funds to armed groups and check their subversive activities in the mosque in Milan and elsewhere in Italy."


Oct-28-05 16:16


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