Wednesday September 1, 2010

Italy Refuses Tax Revenue to Fund Mosques

By Hilary White

ROME, September 1, 2010 ( – The Italian government has refused to grant official recognition to Islam in the tax code, citing polygamy that is sanctioned by Muslims and the religion’s failure to uphold women’s rights. The decision has to do with a bill that would allocate and distribute 8 percent of tax revenue to organized religions in the country.

COREIS, one of Italy’s largest Muslim groups, responded to the decision saying, “Work should be begun on legally recognising those moderate Muslims who have for years shown themselves to be reliable interlocutors who are free of and fundamentalist ideology.”

The bill proposes to expand the allocation of state funds to Hindu and Buddhist temples, Greek Orthodox churches and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Presently, only the Catholic Church, Judaism and other established religious groups including Lutherans, Evangelists, Waldensians – a medieval Christian sect – and 7th-day Adventists receive tax revenue from the Italian government.

Observers have noted that the decision on the distribution of tax revenue will mean that the Italian state will not fund the building of new mosques or fund those that already exist. Currently it is estimated that between one million and 1.5 million Muslims live in Italy and the country has about 130 mosques. It is also believed that Muslims make up the bulk of the country’s vast, uncounted numbers of illegal immigrants.

The decision comes after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, during an official state visit in Rome this week, said that all Europeans should convert to Islam. He told a lecture audience, who had been paid to attend, that women are more respected in Libya, and offered help finding Libyan husbands.

Later, at a closing ceremony, Gaddafi demanded a payment from the European Union of “at least five billion Euros a year” to stop illegal immigration into Europe from his country.

“Gaddafi’s words show his dangerous Islamisation project for Europe,” said MEP Mario Borghezio of the anti-immigration Northern League, junior partner in the coalition government, Il Messaggero reported. In 2008 the League had introduced a bill into the Italian parliament to block the construction of mosques in much of the country.

Public opinion is turning against Islam in many quarters in Europe, as ever-greater numbers of Muslims from developing countries, especially from Africa, are flooding into European countries, including Italy, often filling the vacuum formed by the well-below-replacement birth rates in those countries.

A poll undertaken by the Makno research organization, and commissioned by the interior ministry, found that 55.3 percent of Italians asked said immigration from Islamic countries was more “problematic” than that from other Christian countries. Only 39.7 percent said Muslims should be allowed to practice their religion and build mosques unconditionally. Nearly 10 percent were opposed to allowing Muslim religious practices or mosques and the rest posed various conditions, such as reciprocity for Christians in Islamic countries to practice their religion.

Seventeen percent said they feared terrorist attacks; nearly 25 percent said they believed Muslims were critical of Italians and Italian culture; and 28.2 percent said Muslims were intolerant of Catholicism.

The recent revelations of the Islamic practice of sexual slavery of young boys in Afghanistan has shocked westerners and, in conjunction with information about the poor treatment of women in many Islamic countries and other aspects of Islamic culture repellant to Western sensibilites, is likely adding to the growing animus in Europe against further immigration.

The U.S. Defense Department recently hired a social scientist, Anna Maria Cardinalli, to investigate why the male soldiers serving in Afghanistan were experiencing continual sexual harassment from Muslim men. Cardinalli published a report in which she said that the use of boys for sexual services by Afghani men is a centuries-old practice, and one that is sanctioned by the imams.

Cardinalli told the Joel Brinkley, a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, that taking boys between 9 and 15 years as “lovers” is a common practice, engaged in by as many as 50 percent of the men in some regions. One local told a Reuters news reporter that it is a status symbol to have a boy.

Brinkley reports that a popular pastime are dance parties in which young boys are dressed up as girls, complete with makeup and bells on their feet, and dance “for a dozen or more leering middle-aged men” who then take them home. A State Department report called the “dancing boys” a “widespread, culturally sanctioned form of male rape.”

“There’s no issue more horrifying and more deserving of our attention than this,” Cardinalli said. “I’m continually haunted by what I saw.”

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