Italy expels Muslim cleric who refused to accept gender parity

A Moroccan man who served as a "stand-in imam" in a mosque in northern Italy was forcibly repatriated home because he refused to accept Italian constitutional rights such as gender parity, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Thursday.

Following the Charlie Hebdo Islamist attacks in Paris in January 2015, Italy adopted legislation making it easier for police to arrest or expel suspected terrorists. Since then, 115 have been sent home, including 12 imams, Alfano said in a statement.

The latest case concerns a 33-year-old who acted as secretary of the Muslim Community of Treviso, an industrial town in north-east Italy about 40 kilometres north of Venice. He was put on a plane to Casablanca late on Wednesday, the minister said.

The decision was taken because the man refused to swear on the constitution before taking up Italian citizenship, arguing that his ultra-conservative Salafist Islam beliefs were "fully incompatible" with Italy's fundamental laws.

He denounced Italian laws as "'a collection of sins upon sins' such as, for example, parity between men and women," Alfano said.

The minister has for weeks been publicizing an anti-radicalization campaign for Muslim preachers, which should lead to new rules requiring them to study Italian rules and customs and deliver their sermons in Italian.

"We are working to create a new model of imam, which we could call 'Italian imam,'" Alfano told the Libero newspaper in July, expressing concern that current Muslim clerics in Italy are all foreign-trained "and therefore have different values from us and sometimes radical inclinations."

Last update: Thu, 08/09/2016 - 14:56

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