Breish: Much of the mediation carried out by the Islamic Cultural Center contributes to resolving problems between Muslim workers in Italy and employers (Al Jazeera)

Trento -

The responsibility of Islamic centers that serve Arab and Muslim immigrants in Western countries is increasing in these times due to the escalation of the right-wing anti-immigrant tide in a number of European countries, including Italy, which places on the leaders of these Islamic centers increasing responsibilities in defending the rights of Arab and Muslim immigrants, and introducing In the true image of Islam, and also helping Arab and Muslim immigrants, especially new ones, to integrate into their societies, and also intervening to resolve differences within immigrant communities.

In this dialogue that we conducted in the city of Trento in northern Italy with the head of the Islamic Cultural Center in the city, Abu Al-Khair Breish, the latter explains the backgrounds and objectives of launching the only Islamic center in this medium-sized city, and the nature of the services it provides to the Muslim community in the city. Breish also addresses the details of cultural mediation. The religious and religious activities undertaken by the Center to deal with a number of disputes that erupt among the Muslims of Trento.

In the interview conducted at the center’s headquarters, the head of the Islamic Center of Trento explains the difference in how the Italian authorities deal with Muslim women’s hijab from their French counterparts, who approved several strict legislations regarding Muslim women’s dress in their country. However, Abu Al-Khair Breish stresses that one of the most dangerous challenges that Muslims face in... Italy is a rising tide of homosexuality and atheism.

  • What does the center offer to the Muslim community in Trento in various fields? How has its work developed since its founding?

Our center is five decades old. When I came to Trento and obtained a university degree in medicine, I began working with the Muslim minorities in the city with the first generation, then the second, then the third, and currently we are working with the fourth generation in Italy.

The beginning of Islamic work was serving the people, society, and what is called the community, even if it is not the correct name, because we have become residents of this country, and it has become our country and the country of successive generations.

In the beginning, Italy granted residency only to a very limited category of immigrants, and that was limited to ambassadors, members of consulates, and some merchants and people with economic interests. In 1989, Italy opened the doors of residency to immigrants due to its need for labor, after other European countries preceded it in this step.

The first delegations of Muslim immigrants to Italy were made up of young men without their families. After their situation stabilized, and with the passage of time, they brought their families to settle with them in the country. The number of Muslims increased, and their number now approaches 3 million of various nationalities and from different regions of North Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia.

The Islamic Cultural Center in Trento provides general services to Muslims and non-Muslims, including searching for work and housing, translation of documents, and cultural and religious mediation.

In light of the alienation and difficulty of life, the need has emerged for Islamic centers and mosques to serve as places for acquaintance and cooperation for members of the Muslim minority in Italy. Just as there are difficulties associated with diaspora countries, there are opportunities for cooperation between the Muslim elite and all Muslims in Italy.

The center provides general services to Muslims and non-Muslims, including job search and housing services, translation of documents, and cultural and religious mediation, which is intended to intervene when disputes occur within the workplace in Trento between the employer and the worker, at school, and within the family itself.

  • How does the Center practice cultural and religious mediation?

The Center practices this mediation through its management and those in charge of it in general, for example when disputes occur between fathers and mothers on the one hand and children on the other hand, between husband and wife, and between employer and worker, and one of the parties comes to ask for the assistance of the Islamic Cultural Center. At that time, we make our effort to contribute to Resolve disagreements one way or another.

Some cases, despite our intervention, are doomed to failure due to the intransigence of one of the parties, but in most cases the Center’s intervention is very useful and successful, because whether the Italian party (the employer) or the Muslim party (the worker) needs someone to turn to in order to understand the truth of some matters. For example, the employer asks us Italian Work: Does Islam say such and such as this Muslim worker says?

  • It would be nice if you could provide us with successful examples of the mediation that you carry out that have a relationship to the Islamic religion between a Christian party and a Muslim party in Trento.

Most of the cases are between employers and workers because the first party does not understand the nature of a Muslim’s life. For example, a Muslim worker who commits his day at work is not allowed to perform prayers at their specified times. If the worker explains to his employer his need for time to perform the five daily prayers, the employer may see to it that An attempt by the worker to evade work, but the Islamic Cultural Center explains to the employer that this is one of the requirements of the Islamic religion, and that it is an integral part of religiosity.

Breish sums up in Italian the contents of a Friday sermon delivered in the language of Dhaad (Al Jazeera)

The same applies to the Muslim woman’s hijab. How much Muslim women suffer in foreign countries, as many people there see the hijab as merely a habit or forced by parents or husbands. The Center intervenes to clarify what the Islamic religion stipulates in this regard, and in many cases we find understanding. The Italian side has this religious peculiarity. Indeed, when some Italian employers understood the requirements of Islam regarding the issue of prayer, they allocated a hall for Muslim workers in which to perform this ritual.

  • How is the situation in Italy regarding the Muslim woman’s dress code, whether the hijab or the abaya, compared to what happened recently in France in terms of the tightening of laws and government decisions regarding the Muslim woman’s dress code?

The situation in Italy, praise be to God, is completely different from what is happening in France. There is no strictness from the Italian authorities. Local law recognizes decisions from the Prime Minister and the Ministry of the Interior that the Muslim woman’s hijab is part of her religion, and therefore a Muslim woman is allowed to wear official documents such as the identity card and passport. Hijab, the only condition is that the face be clear.

The problem does not come from the Italian law, but from the social aspect, accepted by some parties in Italy, and by some Italian employees who are extremist, and when some women go to them to renew their ID cards or passports, they tell them to take off the hijab.

Then we intervene in the center to tell this or that employee that Italian law allows Muslim women and even some religious minorities to wear what their religion imposes on them, provided that some legal requirements are respected, such as showing the full face in the photo when completing some transactions.

Unlike what is happening in France, there is no strictness from the Italian authorities towards the hijab. Local law stipulates, according to decisions from the Prime Minister and the Ministry of the Interior, that the hijab of a Muslim woman is part of her religion.

  • So the essence of your center’s mission is to preserve the Islamic religious identity and the Arabic language for Muslims in this Italian region. How do you do this?

Firstly, it carries out purely religious activities, including performing the five daily prayers, Friday prayers, and Eid prayers, and commemorating religious and social events when a child is born or someone dies. The mosque located in the Islamic Cultural Center also hosts other occasions such as the release of marriage and the Aqeeqah, and documents marriage contracts.

In addition, the Center pays attention to the Arabic language, which is a matter of great concern to us, as it is the language of the Qur’an. It is difficult for someone who is not fluent in this language to understand the Qur’anic text. The language is also important because it is a means of communication between the rising generations of Muslim immigrants in Italy and their relatives in their countries of origin.

How many children and young people when they come from their countries of origin say: We do not want to return to that country, and when we inquire about the reason, they respond that they are not good at speaking Arabic and we do not get along with our grandparents, uncles, and aunts.

On the other hand, there is an opposite picture. Students and students who learned the Arabic language in mosques - helped by the cooperation of their families - when they go to their countries of origin, they return from them happy, because they communicate linguistically with their relatives and relatives. In fact, the examples that I came across are that one of the students returned. He settled in an Arab country, and when he entered one of the schools there, the Arabic teacher was surprised by his linguistic level, even though he came from a European country like Italy. When the teacher asked him why, the student told him that he had learned Arabic at the Islamic Center.

A number of Trento Muslims attend Friday prayers at the headquarters of the Islamic Cultural Center (Al Jazeera)

We believe that the effort to teach Arabic undertaken by our center, and all Islamic centers in Italy to varying degrees, is a sacred effort, as great sacrifices are made by providing appropriate, experienced teachers for whom we hold training courses, and not as it was in the past in a spontaneous, voluntary manner.

We also no longer rely in teaching Arabic on curricula brought from Arab countries, as was the case in the past, but rather on curricula written by writers living in European countries so that the curriculum is suitable for the European environment for Muslim students.

  • What are the most significant problems and difficulties that the Center addresses, in addition to the issue of Islamophobia?

One of the most prominent difficulties and serious problems that occur with regard to young people and emerging Muslim groups in Italy is their exposure to attack in social and educational spaces with the aim of corrupting these young people’s moral and religious nature, such as homosexuality and atheism.

This matter stems from the fact that the nature of life in Italy requires that these young Muslims live most of the time with Italians, whether in schools or on school trips. If the parents are not at a level of awareness, culture, general and religious knowledge, and knowledge of the principles of education and the relationship with their children, it will happen. Very unfortunate cases.

We need experts in purely psychological and religious issues, although many Islamic centers have imams who specialize in Sharia law and contribute greatly to this required awareness. The Italian Institute of Islamic and Human Sciences recently established its center in the city of Verona, but its activity extends throughout Italy.

  • What are the most prominent features of the attack related to the wave of homosexuality and atheism? What is the center doing to confront it?

One of the most dangerous aspects related to this issue, unfortunately, is that it has become part of the country's laws. Sometimes you can express your opinion and what the Islamic religion says about the matter, but there has become a great difficulty in choosing the appropriate words to explain these matters to non-Muslims and to young men and women in the Muslim minority.

Therefore, we try as much as possible to ally and cooperate with good segments of Italian society, non-Muslims who are against homosexuality and seek stability in innate matters, as the family consists of a man and a woman, and innate nature rejects homosexuality.

  • Who are these segments within Italy that you are allying with to confront this wave?

These are segments of religious Christians, because religious people of all religions generally oppose these ideas, in addition to the presence of a group of Italians that defend the principle of personal freedom, and say that just as the state has approved perversion and atheism in its laws, others who disagree have the right to communicate their religious or personal ideas. Or cultural.

Among those we ally with are university professors, doctors, and families who oppose these trends related to homosexuality.

A group of Italians defending the principle of personal freedom say that just as the Italian state approved homosexuality and atheism in its laws, others who disagree have the right to communicate their religious or cultural ideas.

  • Despite Europe's need for young migrant workers, European countries, including Italy, do not want these groups, which they see as a random influx. Some see them as a threat to the stability of their countries, and some see them as a threat to the Christian origins of Europe. What do you think of this view?

This is an unrealistic view. It is an artificial view exploited by the extreme right, because the reality says that these groups will not affect the entity of European countries. For example, France has had 6 million Muslims for a long time, and yet the essence of the secular French state has not changed.

This negative view stems from a bad historical perspective of the relationship between them and Islam and Muslims, and if they really want to prevent this immigration, then let them stop their evil of the wealth and natural resources in the countries from which the immigrants come so that their countries can develop them.

Many fair-minded European experts say we need immigrants, and they add that if immigration stopped, many factories and farms would close and the economy would be disrupted, due to the high rate of aging and the lack of births.

European countries have tried to encourage their citizens to have children in various ways, but they have failed to do so because of the European materialistic mentality.

  • Give us some bright examples of Muslim immigrants in Trento, who present an opposite image to the negative image of immigrants held by groups of Italians.

I would like to talk about Muslim women because there are accusations that this woman and Islam have prejudices. There are Muslim women who have presented a medical image in the local community in schools through their achievements as students, professors or teachers. There is a Muslim teacher who teaches Arabic at a public university in the city of Trento.

There are many Arabic language teachers in Italian schools and activists in social and volunteer organizations in the city, in addition to a number of male immigrants who contribute to civil defense teams, the Red Cross, and volunteer organizations. All of these provide educational and volunteer work and activities that are a source of pride for every Muslim minority in the country. Trento.

Source: Al Jazeera