Italy rules out burkini ban, wants home-trained imams



ROME: Italy will not follow France by allowing burkini bans on public beaches but is planning tighter regulation of imams and mosques, the country’s interior minister said in comments published Wednesday.

Angelino Alfano told the Corriere della Sera daily that he regarded France’s restrictions on Islamic clothing as counter-productive because of the potential backlash it could provoke.

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“The interior ministry’s responsibility is to guarantee security and to decide the severity of responses which however must never become provocations that could potentially attract attacks,” Alfano said.

Asked specifically about the burkini bans recently introduced by several French seaside towns, Alfano added: “It doesn’t seem to me, alas, that the French model has worked for the best.”

Alfano, who is planning to table a new security law in September, also said he wanted all imams preaching in the country’s mosques to be trained in Italy, and for all mosques to be fully compliant with the law. “Enough already with these homemade mosques springing up in garages,” he was quoted as saying.

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Alfano has deported nine imams suspected of promoting radical Islam since the start of last year. He defended the hardline approach, which has been uncontroversial in Italy, as necessary to reduce the risk of broader radicalisation.

Alfano said he had to be “pragmatic because there are a million and a half Muslims in Italy that I certainly cannot treat as terrorists or terrorist supporters” but also severe “because there is a difference between preaching and encouraging hatred and violence”.

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