Milan to press ahead for city mosque

Despite hold-up caused by regional law.

Milan deputy mayor Anna Scavuzzo has told the city’s Muslims that the new administration will continue to press for a mosque, even though the previous administration’s plan, launched in December 2014, has ground to a halt under a new law passed by the Lombardy regional assembly.

While by no means banning such a building, the regional law laid down some new rules: religious centres (such as mosques) must have adequate transport connections, must respect a minimum distance from other centres (such as churches), must provide parking areas twice the size of the building itself, and must have closed-circuit TV surveillance connected with the police.

This law in effect torpedoed the plan by the previous city administration under mayor Giuliano Pisapia, which had not had to take these conditions into account. But the new city hall under mayor Beppe Sala has not abandoned the plan, and is drawing up a new one respecting the newly introduced requirements, said Scavuzzo.

In the coming days, she assured interested parties, they will be invited to examine the documents of the previous plan and the regional law, and present their demands, projects and ideas by 27 July. The communities pressing for building permission include the Casa della Cultura Musulmana, Centro Cristiano Evangelico, Istituto Culturale Islamico, Centro Islamico di Milano e Lombardia, Bangladesh Cultural and Welfare Association and the Associazione Islamica di Milano.

“But it won’t happen fast,” Scavuzzo warned. While reassuring the communities that the city council is anxious to press ahead, she said that drawing up the new plan while taking all the requirements into account and consulting with all parties involved could take up to a year.

Muslims in Milan have in the past prayed in the streets to protest the lack of an official mosque for the city.