ROME – A Muslim imam in Rome has urged fellow scholars and imams to integrate the new generation of immigrants in Italy, saying it will enhance social peace, counter extremist ideologies, and fight poverty.
“Imams should facilitate the integration of a new generation of immigrants of the Islamic community”, Salah Ramadan El-Sayed, Imam of the Mosque of Rome (the largest mosque in the Western world) and Professor of Islamic Studies at Al Azhar University in Cairo, told Al Arabiya English on Thursday, September 28.
According to Elsayed, Imams should facilitate integration also by supporting dialogue, conferences, and meetings between Muslims and non-Muslims.
There are around 2 million Muslims in Italy today, the majority of which are originally from Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia.
El-Sayed added that giving mosque sermons in the Italian language will help engage Muslim youth.
“It’s important to give sermons in the language of the country in which you live, without isolating the Muslim community. I always deliver my sermons in Arabic and in Italian so that everyone can understand”, said Elsayed, who is of Egyptian origin but is fluent in Italian, having attained academic distinction at Al Azhar University in Egypt as well as La Sapienza University in Rome.
According to Pew Research Center’s study, the Islamic community in Italy is growing and is estimated to top 3 million by 2030.
In 2016 over 360,000 migrants arrived by sea from North Africa to Italy and over 134,000 landed on its shores in just the first nine months of 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration’s data.
These figures are making immigration and integration two important subjects in Italy’s public debate.
El-Sayed denied any relation between true Islam and extremists, adding that terrorism can’t be defeated only by enforcing security measures.
“Extremism and terrorism are political evils that have nothing to do with religion, as Islam calls for peace and prohibits even the thought of spilling blood,” said El-Sayed.
“To combat terrorism we need social and cultural solutions as well as economic policies aimed at fighting poverty” concluded El-Sayed.