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Religious freedom in Europe and Italy: meeting with students at the Foreign Ministry in Rome (8 May 2012)

Italy lacks a legislative framework that would provide a voice for the increasing numbers of religious faiths in our country, to the detriment of social cohesion. This was one of the points to emerge from a meeting with students at the Foreign Ministry on the subject of religious freedom, organised by the Inter-Departmental Committee for Human Rights

After years of “secularisation”, Italy has become “infinitely more pluralist”, explained Professor Paolo Naso of Rome’s “La Sapienza” University, referring to the different religious communities that have arrived through immigration. However, although the law recognises freedom of religion, “the gap between the ‘real’ country and legal representation has become unsustainable. The political sphere must take this on board”, he added.

Integration and cultural particularity

“European unity itself is perceived in plurality”, explained the Secretary General of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Rome, Abdellah Redouane. He pointed out that there are now 20 million Muslims in Europe, who must become “integrated while retaining their cultural particularity”. As regards Italy, the Muslim communities seek an agreement with the institutions to establish good relations in a spirit of mutual awareness.

The new dimension to social co-existence, underscored Riccardo Pacifici, President of the Jewish Community in Rome, must include “educational programmes that keep pace with demographic change by rejecting any standardisation that cancels out identity”.

“Human rights, from theory to practice”. A series of meetings at the MFA

The meeting on 8 May was part of the programme of meetings on “Human rights, from theory to practice” for students at Rome’s principal universities (La Sapienza, Roma Tre, Tor Vergata, Luiss, St. Pio V, LUMSA). The programme opened at the MFA on 13 March 2012 in the presence of Minister for Employment and Social Affairs, Elsa Fornero, and the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, Marta Dassù.