Jesuit says mosque construction a political act
While warning against anti-Muslim prejudice, a Rome-based Jesuit has said that the construction of mosques in certain places could be detrimental to the integration of local immigrant communities.
Writing in the influential journal La Civilta Cattolica, Egyptian lecturer of the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Fr Khalil Samir, said: "The construction of mosques, unlike churches, can be a politically ambivalent act."
He went on to suggst that European governments have the right to place conditions on the establishment of new mosques on their national territories.
Fr Samir was writing in the context of Italy, where 30% of migrants are Muslims and where political groups have expressed concern with the growing influence of Islam. Bologna Archbishop Cardinal Giacomo Biffi last year called for a ban on the construction of new mosques in Italy.
Fr Samir explained that mosques are places where important political, social and cultural decisions are taken. "In many Muslim countries, for example in Egypt, which today is the most populous Arab Muslim country, all of the mosques are guarded on Fridays, and the most important mosques are surrounded by special police. The reason is simple: political decisions come from the mosque."