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News Code: 316


A group of American university students

On May 25th a group of American university students came to visit the Islamic Centre of England accompanied by their tutor Dr Pani. The visiting students who are in London for few months on an educational programme are currently studying about “Islam in the West” as one of the modules for their undergraduate degree. The students where lectured by Amir De Martino an educational officer at the Islamic Centre of England. His presentation focused on Islam in Italy providing a brief introduction to the history of the Islamic presence in Italy . Unknown to many, southern Italy , had an Islamic presence for more that 400 years with Sicily being part of an Islamic Emirate. This presence was parallel to the Islamic presence in Spain . After the Christian re-conquest nothing was left of the Islamic community except buildings and monuments.

Since the 70’s the Islamic presence in Italy has staidly increased. Originally made up of mostly North African immigrant workers, today represents the diversity of ethnicities and nationalities that is typical of the Islamic world. Mr De Martino briefly compared the situation of the Islamic community in UK and Italy explaining how the Italian government found itself unprepared to deal with an influx of people of different cultures and religion and is debating ways and strategies on how best to integrate them within the Italian society. Many demands and needs which are given for granted by the British Muslim community are just now being discussed and negotiated between the Italian government and community representatives.

The lecturer also discussed with the students, basic concept of the Islamic faith explaining some of the differences and the communalities that Christianity and Islam share.