Net condemnation of the Russian war onUkraine, but not without more or less explicit criticisms of the politics of Western governments in recent decades. In summary, this is the position of the two associations representing almost all the 2.5 Muslims in Italy, the Ucoii (Union of Islamic Communities of Italy, more deeply rooted in the territory with 300 places of worship) and Coreis (Religious Community Italian Islamic, second for diffusion, with a wider spectrum of ethnic groups within it).
As in the entire public opinion among the ranks of the faithful, of which 1 million have Italian citizenship, the debate has opened. With an immediately evident difference between the two organizations. “The war, which inevitably leads to unspeakable pain and extends injustice”, explains Yassine Lafram, head of UCOII, “our community has suffered directly or in solidarity with the Muslim peoples who have been subjected to it”. A clear reference to the bloody events of Middle East. For Yahya Pallavicini, president of Coreis, the first reactions were “sadness and dismay”, but more “because of the proximity to a drama that affects us as Europeans”. On the other hand, the official one in support of the Ukrainians is similar: “We have appealed to all the mosques in Italy and Europe to open their doors to Ukrainian refugees – says Lafram – and we took to the streets in many Italian cities to ask for an immediate ceasefire, inviting all the imams of the mosques of Italy to devote a moment of prayer to ask the Most High to enlighten the consciences of those appointed to decide the fate of the world “.
Coreis, which has its headquarters in the Milan mosque in via Meda, showed its solidarity “immediately, on the first Sunday after the invasion, on the occasion of mass in the Catholic church of the Ukrainian Milanese community, at the invitation of the priest. Furthermore, with various mosques in Europe, we are preparing a fundraising and food collection for civilians ”. Pallavicini also reveals that “with a coordination of confessional authorities (Muslims, Catholics, Evangelicals, non-Russian Orthodox) we are trying to organize a delegation to be sent to Moscow to meet Patriarch Kirill or, at least, Metropolitan Hilarion. To at least try to bear witness of peace in person ”.
Yes, peace. Everyone wants it, but how to get it in practice? Lafram of the UCOII keeps on general: “Peace is putting yourself in the shoes of the other, no matter how tight or difficult to wear. It is eliminating everything that can trigger a war, unloading weapons, wetting the powders, carrying out gestures of solidarity and acceptance every day ”. Pallavicini of Coreis, premising that “it must be built first of all with the reduction of the arms market and military spending, as Pope Francis recalled”, goes a little more into the matter by stigmatizing Russia “by force entering another country, resorting to a logic of violence that should belong to the past “. And he goes so far as to advocate “all forms of pressure for the Russians to turn back”. Even by arming Ukraine, how did Italy decide to do it in the wake of the European Union? “No, with diplomatic and political actions, otherwise all the claims of emancipation of barbarism lose their meaning. We must restore the primacy of reason and faith, which teaches us not to kill ”.
Both associations are in contact with the leaders of the confreres in Ukraine, whose communities “have opened their mosques to house war refugees,” Lafram emphasizes. “We spoke with the Ukrainian Mufti (highest national religious authority, ed) as well as with those of Poland, Romania and Bulgaria”, he says Pallavicini, “While with the Russian religious leaders, with the exception of the Orthodox one, the message of silence reached us”. Not surprisingly, in Russia, freedom of expression is now zeroed.
In our parts, however, maybe there is some hesitation too much to discuss the causes of the conflict. “We are not looking for causes, but opportunities to put an end to them”, Lafram cuts short. But he adds: “If continuous and coherent gestures of peace are not carried out, crises become conflicts”. The UCOII openly cites the “ever open wound of Palestine” as an example of that “value of territorial integrity as absolute as it is disregarded”. And not only Palestine: also “Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya”.
Coreis, while siding “with the values of the West” and deeming the attack by Putin’s troops “disproportionate”, also denounces the behavior of the Ukrainian president Zelensky (which “is not a little saint”): “At the base there are the legitimate provocations he decided to prevent his country from becoming a buffer state. Russia responded with force, doing itself doubly wrong ”. Pallavicini distances himself from certain “sad speculations that I have collected from some Muslims in the Middle East and the Arab world, according to which the West defends Ukraine but discriminates against refugees from the Mediterranean”. There may be “differences of views, but I, with my community, have been clear in condemning the war”. The geopolitical analyzes at the moment “risk being just talk. Democracy is the least worst of the systems to avoid tyranny because it guarantees pluralism, but it cannot be exported by force, it must be a process of conscious maturation that leaves the people the freedom of choice. Otherwise it is one imperialism against the other. Unfortunately there is a widespread stupidity in the West as well as in the East. But it remains a lesser evil, compared to the barbarism of those who attack ”.