Decision of far-right mayor of Italy’s Monfalcone to ban Muslim prayers sparks outrage among residents

The town of Monfalcone in Italy has been thrown into turmoil following the controversial decision by its far-right mayor, Anna Maria Cisint, to ban Muslim prayers, the Guardian reported. The ban has sparked outrage among the town’s Bangladeshi residents and others, who argue that it is part of an anti-Islam agenda.

The situation escalated when an envelope containing partially burned pages of the Qur’an was received by the Darus Salaam Muslim cultural association, the Guardian’s report said. Bou Konate, the association’s president, described the incident as a serious insult and a threat that was fueled by a campaign of hate.

Monfalcone, with a population of over 30,000, has experienced significant demographic changes due to the presence of a state-controlled shipyard owned by Fincantieri. The shipyard’s outsourcing practices have led to an influx of skilled foreign workers, primarily from Bangladesh, who now outnumber Italians in the town.

Cisint, who won re-election in 2022, has been actively promoting an anti-immigration agenda, according to news outlets. Her previous actions include removing benches from the main square, attempting to limit the number of foreign children in schools, and banning the sport of cricket, which is popular among Bangladeshis, from the town’s sports festival.

However, it was Cisint’s ban on prayers in November that has had the most significant impact. The ban applies to two Muslim cultural centers in the town.

Cisint claims that the premises were being used in violation of urban planning rules and for purposes other than commercial use. Safety concerns were also cited as a reason for the ban, the report confirmed.

The Muslim community in Monfalcone, which has a long history of peacefully practicing their faith, argues that they have always respected the laws and that Cisint’s actions infringe on their constitutional right to pray. The ban has prompted widespread protests, with an estimated 8,000 people taking to the streets in opposition.

The Muslim community is also taking legal action against the prayer ban, appealing to the regional administrative court. The outcome of this legal challenge could have far-reaching implications for religious freedom and the treatment of minority communities in Italy.

The ban on Muslim prayers in Monfalcone has not only caused division within the town but has also drawn national attention, with many viewing it as a reflection of the rise of far-right sentiment in Italy.

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