chapter  7
14 Pages

New Modes of Social Interaction in Italy: Muslim Leaders and Local Society in Tuscany and Venetia

Directly after the events of 9/11, several Muslim strategies of interaction could be observed in the public sphere ofltaly. However, this plurality is rarely described or emphasized in mainstream coverage of Islam. During the entire month of October 2001, the press and the main television channels gave voice mainly to 'vocal leaders' such as Boubriki Bouchta, one of Turin's imams, or Adel Smith, president of the Union ofltalian Muslims. On 5 November 2001, the latter declared, during the popular daily talk-show, 'Porta a Porta' on RAI Channel I, that 'we should take the crosses off the walls of all public spaces in Italy, because it is not pleasant to see a dead corpse in miniature'. In contrast, no national newspapers or television programmes reported the numerous public appearances of local imams in several Northern Italian cities, the 'mosque open days' in Turin or Milan, the many conferences on Islam held during October and November 2001, or the ChristianIslamic summit organized by The Community of Saint Egidio (Rome, 3-4 October 2001 ). These contradictory accounts of the interaction between Muslims and Italian society are the result of a gradual and insidious social representation of 'Muslim immigration', which has in turn triggered certain vicious circles.